The growing number of people needing operations after being seriously injured in collisions involving e-scooters is “a concern”, according to a top surgeon at King’s College Hospital.
The Denmark Hill hospital saw 196 patients come into its emergency department with injuries suffered during an e-scooter collision in 2020, a report by transport safety charity Pacts found. Pacts claims that e-scooter injuries are probably under-reported nationally: the government said that there were just 484 injuries in 2020 for the whole of Great Britain.
Most of the people who come into King’s simply fell over on their e-scooter, according to Raju Ahluwalia, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital.
He said: “Our day case trauma surgical lists are being impacted with an increasing volume of patients needing surgery to treat complicated fractures following e-scooter collisions. The increasing costs, and their rate of increase, are a concern.”
E-scooters, which first became popular in London last year, are mostly illegal to ride on public roads in the UK, although Southwark is among several London boroughs taking part in a trial scheme. The scheme lets people ride scooters that they have hired from Transport for London (TfL) on roads in the borough.
Despite the heavy restrictions on e-scooter use, the Pacts report said that “hundreds of thousands of them are evidently being used – illegally – on roads and in public places across the UK. Safety concerns, notably for the riders, pedestrians and visually impaired people have arisen.”
As we have reported on several occasions, e-scooter use can be very dangerous. There has been at least one death associated with an e-scooter this year in Southwark, as well as a serious injury to a little girl.
Police are trying to crack down on shops that sell e-scooters without telling their customers that they are illegal to use on public roads. Officers have so far seized a total of 3,637 privately owned e-scooters in 2021.
Commander Kyle Gordon, in charge of roads policing, said: “We know that some people may be unfamiliar with the rules around e-scooters and this is something we are working hard with partners to address.
“It is really unhelpful that retailers, fully aware of the risks they are creating for the public, continue to profit from selling machines illegal for use on public roads without sufficient explanation and guidance…
“Private devices have, on occasion, proven to be highly dangerous; and we have been called to help many people who have been involved in collisions and ended up seriously hurting themselves or others.