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.
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.