The Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP) at the Hamad Trauma Center of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is advising families and residents to practice proven safe e-scooter use, especially during Ramadan.

Globally, e-scooters are a new and trendy means of personal transportation potentially improving micro-mobility for many road users. Recently, there are even e-scooter rideshare options available here in Doha. User convenience, environmental concerns and even transportation costs have all been cited as the rationale for their increasing use. While it seems inevitable that the number of scooter users and scooters will increase, what the general public does not know is the great risks they face when using them and what are the proven means of increasing one’s safety when using one.

Hamad Trauma Center has already seen victims with severe e-scooter injuries and there have been reports of many minor to moderate e-scooter injuries needing care at various emergency rooms in Qatar. With more kids riding e-scooters at night during Ramadan, HIPP warns of severe injuries and are sharing these best practices for safer use and regulation of e-scooters, based on recent reports from major cities and trauma centres around the world;

Essential facts about using e-scooters:

  • As more e-scooters are bought and used, more injuries, and even deaths, might happen.
  • In the US, from 2014-2018, with the introduction of ride-sharing e-scooter options, there was a 222% increase in e-scooter injuries reported. It is estimated that there were over 50,000 e-scooter injuries per year in the US last year.
  • Globally, more e-scooter users are injured than cyclists.
  • E-scooters are not toys and are not recommended for children below 12 years. E-scooters are motorised vehicles capable of speeds in excess of 30-40 kph and they require complex decision-making, impulse control and experience when used.
  • One-half of all e-scooter injuries happen during the user’s first ride. Do a quick test run in a safe environment before heading out of the area for the first time or on a new or unfamiliar machine.
  • E-scooters are designed for one user only, multiple users and/or transporting cargo that cannot be carried in one’s backpack dramatically increase the chances of an e-scooter crash.
  • E-scooter malfunction accounts for 20% of all crashes so one must do a quick inspection and test run before heading out of the area.
  • More than a third of victims from e-scooter crashes suffer from a head injury and almost all of them did not use a helmet.
  • More than half of all injuries involve the arms or legs or multiple areas of the body. Clothing that provides full-body coverage can protect against multiple abrasions, fractures and contusions.
  • Being visible on every trip greatly increases the chances that other road users will see and avoid e-scooters.
  • Loss of e-scooter control, even for a microsecond, has been cited as the cause of at least one-third of all crashes. Focused and undivided attention is needed to keep full e-scooter control and avoid injury.

Safety tips for users:

  • Children below 12 years old should not be allowed to use e-scooters.
  • New users should practice on a smooth surface in an area specifically designated for e-scooters before going out on the road.
  • Only one user can/should safely use an e-scooter.
  • Carefully inspect and test the e-scooter before using it for the first time to better understand the specifications, features and capabilities of the machine.
  • All users of e-scooters must wear a helmet.
  • All e-scooter users must also wear protective eyewear (goggles), closed shoes, elbow/knee pads, and gloves on every ride.
  • E-scooter users must turn on their lights and wear high visibility (or reflective) clothing on every ride, regardless if it is day or night.
  • Riding e-scooters during night time, when visibility is poor, should be avoided because it can lead to more severe injuries or fatalities.
  • E-scooter users must be fully focused on driving their vehicles, nothing else.
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times, no texting or selfies while using an e-scooter.

Recommendation to prevent e-scooter injuries:

The top causes of e-scooter crashes are speed, losing control of the scooter and hitting a pothole or a stationary object such as a pole. These can be addressed with speed limits, restricting distracted or impaired driving and designated e-scooter lanes.

  • E-scooters should be banned from roads with speed limits greater than 50 kph.
  • Significantly more vulnerable road users, like e-scooter users, cyclists and pedestrians, are killed in crashes with vehicles travelling more than 50 kph.
  • Speed limits for e-scooters, ranging from 10-20 kph, must be introduced and enforced in order to reduce the number of crashes, depending on the environment and road user mix.
  • E-scooter speeding has been identified as a cause of almost 40% of crashes, speed limits will likely reduce the number of crashes.
  • E-scooter drivers must not use their mobile phones for calls or texting, as this behaviour has been associated with e-scooter fatalities from crashes.
  • E-scooters should only drive on the roads or designated lanes, behaving like a bicycle, not on the sidewalks or crosswalks.

Motorised vehicles, like e-scooters, are hazardous for pedestrians and they should be provided with their own designated lanes. Additionally, sidewalks have many structural obstacles and uneven surfaces that are not ideal for e-scooter use.

E-scooters have been introduced and widely used in many cities and towns across the globe. Unfortunately, there is a pattern that has been repeated in almost all these locations. E-scooters have been banned or heavily regulated only after fatalities or severe disabling injuries from multiple e-scooter crashes.

According to HIPP Director Dr Rafael Consunji, they hope that Qatar implements and enforce proven regulations to improve the safe use of e-scooters to avoid more fatalities or injuries.

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