A leading road safety charity has called on the Government ‘to make up its mind now’ to drive down injuries on UK roads caused by e-scooters.
The latest Department for Transport statistics, Reported Road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2020, revealed for the first time that there were 484 casualties involving e-scooters, with one person killed, 128 seriously injured and 355 slightly injured.
IAM RoadSmart pointed out that the statistics follow the launch of e-scooter rental trials on UK streets in July 2020, ‘sparking a surge in e-scooter usage’.
It said that the results of these pilot schemes ‘have been delayed again and again, meaning a full review of the status of this new form of transport is yet to be established’.
Director of policy and research Neil Greig said: ‘By delaying yet again the results of the pilot schemes we have another Christmas looming where people will be buying and using a totally unregulated form of transport in the UK.
‘The pilots were launched in July 2020 and are now not due to finish until March 2022, plus the time required after that for analysis and legislation – this has taken far too long in our opinion. In the meantime, the police should make it absolutely clear that anyone caught riding an e-scooter outside private land or a trial area will have their vehicle seized immediately.
‘E-scooters may have a role to play in the future transport mix, but this can only happen once their legal status has been made completely clear and that cannot happen soon enough.’
The statistics also confirmed that there were an estimated 1,460 reported road deaths in 2020, down 17% on 2019 (1,752).
AA president Edmund King said: ‘It is clear that the lockdown travel restrictions during the pandemic helped the year-on-year fall in road deaths. Rather than simply accept this as a dip in the records, we should use this moment as the catalyst to reset zero road deaths as the target for the end of the decade.’
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said it is ‘deeply concerned’ that the figures show an increase in the number of fatal collisions involving cyclists and children, despite the overall reduction.
It pointed out that in 2020 141 cyclists were killed, up 41% from 100 deaths in 2019. The number of children killed on Britain’s roads also increased, from 49 in 2019 to 52 in 2020.
David Walker, head of road and leisure safety at RoSPA, said: ‘We welcome the fact that more people have been getting out on their bikes and recognise the reduction in the rate of deaths per mile travelled. However, this should not distract from the shocking fact that more cyclists and more children died on our roads than in the previous year.
‘At RoSPA we believe that having more cyclists and pedestrians should not result in an increased number of serious and fatal accidents involving vulnerable road users.’