What do Brits think of e-scooters?
Everyone seems to have an opinion on e-scooters. While these emissions-free vehicles provide another way to navigate cities and towns, they come with dangers and drawbacks. Anyone can rent and ride an e-scooter on a pay-as-you-go basis, but this accessibility increases the risks associated.
Safety is the most widespread issue. Supporters say that e-scooters offer a cleaner and more affordable way to travel, but critics argue that a lack of safety regulations makes them unsuitable for public use. In 2021, there were 1,352 collisions involving e-scooters – nearly three times the number of incidents in the previous year.
No matter where you stand, it’s important to know the facts – and perceived risks – of e-scooters and their place in the contemporary urban environment.
What are e-scooters, and why are they good for the planet?
E-scooters have been in the UK since 2020. That year, various trials and regulations were introduced that allowed people to rent and ride the scooters as part of a ‘green recovery’ initiative. Effectively, e-scooters were intended to help mitigate the current climate crisis.
They look like ordinary, foot-powered scooters, but e-scooters are powered by rechargeable batteries and produce zero emissions. While they’re in use, e-scooters have an extremely minimal impact on the planet. However, there are a few safety concerns to be aware of.
What makes e-scooters unsafe?
Many people in the UK doubt that e-scooters could genuinely offer long-term benefits to society. Since anyone can hire and use an e-scooter, there are several safety concerns. Without sufficient experience or speed awareness, e-scooter riders could easily cause an accident.
E-scooters might seem a good idea for students who’ve been out in town for some drinks, so there’s an increased risk of scooting under the influence. And despite the legal requirement for e-scooter users to be aged at least 18 and hold a provisional driving licence, young people still find loopholes.
In December 2022, a twelve-year-old boy died while riding an e-scooter in Birmingham after the device was unlocked for him by an older teenager. Since the current safety regulations are so easy to bypass, it’s hardly surprising that victims of e-scooter accidents can make successful compensation claims in court.
Why is there a debate about e-scooter use in the UK?
Add to safety concerns the element of general annoyance to drivers, pedestrians, and other road users, and it’s easy to see why e-scooters might not be the nation’s favourite mode of transport. With the help of an e-scooter study by claims experts at National Accident Helpline, we’ve found out that:
- Just over a third of Brits (35%) believe that e-scooters are unsafe for use on public roads and cause traffic accidents
- If there were more safety rules in place, 54% would use an e-scooter
- 39% of car drivers and 47% of pedestrians consider e-scooters the most dangerous mode of transport on the roads
Amongst people living in the UK, the debate primarily concerns the safety of e-scooters on public roads. But there are environmental issues with these devices too.
How could e-scooters be bad for the planet?
Critics highlight the fact that e-scooters will never be entirely green. Their impact starts from the manufacturing process, which involves energy-intensive aluminium as the main material. Aluminium is recyclable, but some scooters even use carbon fibre, which is almost impossible to recycle.
And then there’s battery production, charging and replacement. It is possible to use renewable energy to charge e-scooters, but it’s not feasible in most public or household charging environments in the UK. So, using fossil fuels to charge the batteries on e-scooter is counterintuitive and adds to the environmental burden.
E-scooters: What’s the verdict?
They might be handy if you need to get across town quickly, but e-scooters might pose a greater threat than you’d expect. If you’re planning on using one soon, make sure you follow all the usual road laws – and try to keep yourself and others safe in the process.