‘E-scooter education should not simply be a tick box exercise’

By Nathan Davies, executive head of policy and portfolio, RoSPA 

The growing popularity of e-scooters as a mode of transport across the globe reflects their promise  of convenience, affordability and environmental sustainability. But as with any developing  technology, safety cannot just be an afterthought or regarded as a barrier to progress. Although  popular, there have been some concerns in cities particularly when it comes to where e-scooters can  be ridden and parked and also the general riding etiquette of these new vehicles. 

At The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), we work tirelessly on the prevention of  accidents wherever they may take place, identifying risks and suggesting measures to mitigate them.  Back in April, we published our UK E-scooter Safety Report which assessed the risk of e-scooter  riding with reference to alternative forms of transport.  

Using data from the Department for Transport and our partners Neuron Mobility, we found that  rental e-scooters have lower casualty rates compared with both bicycles and motorbikes. This result  was encouraging to see and highlights that it is possible to use e-scooters safely on UK roads. However, there is much more we can do to make e-scooters an even safer form of transport. As part  of our recommendations, the report encourages operators to focus on education programmes for  riders so that they are aware of the relevant rules in place and take responsible riding seriously. 

This is also backed up by polling which shows that 40% of people in the UK want to see a greater  focus from e-scooter operators on rider education to make the vehicles safer. But rider education  should not simply be a tick box exercise, such as a simple set of rules or basic quizzes, which riders  may or may not familiarise themselves with. Proper rider education should be immersive, city-specific, and be tailored to individual riders and their behaviour.  

We have been advising Neuron on how to meet this challenge through their new ‘ScootSafe  Academy’ platform, an interactive, online riding school with city-specific training content that can  help to educate riders, and also deliver targeted training modules to those that are not using the e scooters correctly. Riders will benefit from access to educational videos, quizzes and games to help  improve rider behaviour, and in turn, improve e-scooter safety. In a first for the industry, ScootSafe  Academy will go beyond traditional rider education platforms, introducing targeted education aimed  at improving the behaviour of riders who have broken the rules. For example, riders can be  temporarily suspended or reported for unsafe riding or bad parking and as a result, they will be sent  a warning and also targeted training modules specific to their violation to re-educate them. 

At RoSPA we have consistently championed the role of rider education in delivering the safest  possible e-scooter service. We co-created the UK’s in-person ‘ScootSafe’ briefings and courses that  are regularly held on the streets and at major events in the cities where e-scooters operate. These are great ways to communicate the most up to date safety messages effectively to their riders and  the wider community.  

Read more: ‘There is pent-up demand for e-scooters’: Tandem Group on embracing electric

Rider education is an important part of the road safety equation, and RoSPA will continue to advise  on how to avoid accidents in transport and beyond. As the popularity of e-scooters grows, operators, city authorities and other important stakeholders should do all they can to educate riders on how to  ride safely and realise the benefits e-scooters have to offer. All road users have a role to play and we’re certain that a joined-up focus on education will improve safety outcomes in our cities and  make the e-scooter schemes running in the government’s approved trial locations a lasting success and blueprint for the future.  

Polling was carried out by Opinium who surveyed a sample of over 2,000 UK adults  between the 17th and 20th September 2021. Data was then weighted by age and demographic data to be  representative of the UK population. 

In other news…

An industry dilemma: The environmental impact of lithium-ion batteries and how to sustainably dispose them

As e-bikes and e-scooters grow in popularity, Rebecca Morley looks at the environmental impact of …