PACTS seeks more data on e-scooter injuries

Better reporting of collisions is needed to tackle unsafe use, says the independent Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety 

There has been a lot of support for so-called ‘active travel’ schemes – greener, healthier modes of transport than sitting in our cars. In July 2020, the UK government permitted e-scooter rental trials in England; the trials were due to conclude this May but have been extended to 2026. The main aim of these trials, said the Department for Transport (DfT), was to ‘build robust evidence about the safety’ of e-scooters. 

But the new report by PACTS says that the data being gathered is not sufficient if we are to understand the risks they present.

a man riding a segway

Photo by Hiboy

The authors of Comparing police and hospital e-scooter casualty datasets describe how data on such danger is collected. If a police officer encounters a collision or injury involving an e-scooter, they can record the form of transport involved in a free-text incident description. Since 2021, DfT has published details of casualties resulting from e-scooter collisions, based on such police data.  

But, say the authors of the report, these statistics don’t match the numbers of people presenting at hospital following a road-traffic collision. Analysing data from October and November 2021 in which 300 casualties were recorded by hospitals, the study finds that the police recorded less than 10% of those who presented to emergency departments after a collision with an e-scooter. Of the most seriously injured of these people, police recorded little more than a quarter of cases. 

What’s more, the study can provide more insight into who is affected by such collisions. Across three datasets used in the study, almost 10% of all casualties were under the age of 17. 

The suggestion is that official figures gravely under-represent the true picture, and that better data can help us more readily understand and mitigate risks to e-scooter riders and other road users. The PACTS study makes three recommendations to DfT: 

  • Increase opportunities to gather casualty data 
  • Improve the means by which such data is gathered under the terms of rental schemes 
  • Require collisions in which injuries occur to be reported to police, regardless of whether a third party is involved    

Margaret Winchcomb, Deputy Executive Director of PACTS, says: ‘Transport is an evolving environment. With technological development, as well as incentives from other policy areas, mobility choice is changing. Smaller, zero-emissions vehicles, such as e-scooters are popular, be they illegally ridden private vehicles or regulated rental e-scooters. 

‘For all, it is essential that the methods for measuring their hazard to riders and danger to other road users are consistent and robust so that safety is adequately understood. The Government should make the most of the extension of the rental trials, until May 2026, to improve and widen the way injuries from e-scooter collisions are recorded.’ 

In related news:

159 electric buses for Oxford – from today 

Improved micromobility across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 

Satellite tech to improve flood warnings 



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