E-scooters labelled as a dangerous mode of transport in London


Since the launch of e-scooter rental schemes across the UK in 2020, the growing trend has spread to more than 50 cities and towns across the country. However, according to new research from National Accident Helpline, consumers would be encouraged to use e-scooters if more safety regulations were introduced.

More than a third of residents living in London strongly believe that e-scooters are not safe on public roads and cause traffic accidents (37%), with those living in the Scotland (41%) and South East (40%) most likely to question the safety of them. More than half of those surveyed in Wales agree they are not safe (68%) and 72% of those in Northern Ireland and Scotland, respectively.

Looking to discover the nation’s views and the safety of e-scooters, the personal injury experts commissioned an online Census survey of around 2,000 members of the public.

Safe or reckless?

While e-scooters are currently being trialled in 51 locations, with a few being extended in Newcastle and York until late 2022, 31% of people in London believe there aren’t enough safety regulations in place. Data shows that people in London would be encouraged to use an e-scooter if there were either more safety rules in place (29%), specific lanes for e-scooters (26%), clear rules of usage (27%), and more awareness among drivers (26%).

The Department for Transport reported more than 700 e-scooter injuries, between June 2020 and June 2021, as well as three fatalities. 882 accidents involving e-scooters were also reported – 173 of these were single vehicle accidents, which is around 20% of all e-scooter accidents. It’s not surprising that e-scooters are deemed to be one of the most dangerous modes of transport on the road for car drivers (37%) and pedestrians (47%) in London.

Lack of awareness

Results also revealed a lack of understanding and awareness from those living in London on the current guidelines when using an e-scooter, with only 16% believing you need a driver’s license to use one and just 24% think it is a legal requirement to wear a helmet.

There also appeared to be little knowledge surrounding the age limit on using a government rented e-scooter, as less than half of those surveyed believe you must be over the age of 16 to use an e-scooter (38%). Suggesting more needs to be done to highlight the legal requirements to make riders, as well as other road users, aware.

The future of e-scooters

Although it is not clear whether e-scooters will become a permanent mode of transport or even replace bike schemes in the future, just under half of residents in London would like wearing a helmet to become a legal requirement for people riding them following trials (47%).

43% also stated they’d like legal guidance to be provided on using e-scooters and more than a third would prefer fines or criminal convictions for those caught using an e-scooter without a license (42%).

When asked where they would like to see e-scooters used, if they became a permanent mode of transport, more than a third opted for university campuses (34%), 30% would prefer to see them in town centres and 31% in business parks. While e-scooter trials are currently running in several boroughs across London, it’s no surprise that 23% of resident wouldn’t like to see them being used anywhere given the high accident rates.

Jonathan White, Legal and Compliance Director at National Accident Helpline, says: “Although e-scooters have become a more attractive transport option, many rental schemes have been put in place without the adequate safety or enforcement measures.

“The accident rates are concerning and we’re calling on the government to introduce more robust enforcement and safety measures to protect all vulnerable road users – particularly as the Government has extended some trials across the UK until late 2022, while legalisation is weighed up.

“We’re also urging e-scooter users to be vigilant when riding them, wear a helmet at all times and keep a safe distance from other road users. It’s important that people are using them responsibly, to keep themselves and others safe.”