Road safety thematic report : personal mobility devices. Version 1.1.

Slootmans, F.

Personal mobility devices (PMDs) have seen a market boom in recent years. These vehicles are seen as an easy way to travel around the city, and they contribute to solving the “last-mile” problem. This report focuses mainly on electric scooters (e-scooters). Shared e-scooters are mainly used for leisure activities, during the weekend, by young men. Privately owned e-scooters are more often used for commuting. It is hypothesized that their crash risk is similar to that of cyclists. A high proportion of crashes with a PMD are usually caused by falls. The most common injuries for (shared) e-scooter users are head injuries, followed by fractures of the lower and upper limbs, soft tissue injuries, and injuries and fractures of the face and neck. Evidence suggests that injuries following e-scooter crashes are more severe than those on bikes. The vast majority of crashes involving an e-scooter do not involve another road user. However, most severe casualties (over 80% of e-scooter rider deaths and 50% of trauma patients’ injuries) result from crashes that do involve a heavier motor vehicle. The proportion of e-scooter users who wear a helmet while driving is very low, even where it is compulsory. Furthermore, a large proportion of users admit that they often ride on the pavement, even when this is not allowed. To develop a safe infrastructure for micro-mobility, research suggests that e-scooters should be banned from pavements but alternatives are required. Cycle paths need to be wide enough to allow different types of vehicles to use this infrastructure together safely. Ideally, designated parking spots for e-scooters should be created. A number of characteristics of the vehicle can pose a threat to road safety. PMDs would be safer with direction indicators, a sound signal, rear-view mirrors, and reflective materials. Lastly, for shared e-scooters it would be beneficial if they were able to “self-diagnose”, identifying remotely faults which require corrective action as they occur. A minimum value for the braking deceleration and two independent braking devices, at least one of which works independently of the vehicle’s electrical system, are recommended. Increasing helmet use would prevent head-injuries. Active enforcement of the legal blood alcohol content, speeding, and positioning on the roadway is advisable. Speed is also a key factor whereever vulnerable road users mix with motor vehicles. National and local authorities could set a default 30 km/h limit in urban areas. Micro-mobility vehicles need to operate in a regulatory framework that defines where they can be used, at what speed, after which training, as of what age and in compliance with which safety rules. As e-scooter users are often injured during their first ride, training is important. In order to oblige PMD users to drive only where they are allowed, geofencing could be used. Training motor vehicle users to be prepared to interact with PMDs is equally important. (Author/publisher)

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Library number
20210609 ST [electronic version only]

Brussels, European Commission / European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO), 2021, 19 p., ref.

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