Police, insurers: Electric scooter accidents on the rise

A Bolt e-scooter, not parked in the correct location (ie. in a cycle lane in this case).
A Bolt e-scooter, not parked in the correct location (ie. in a cycle lane in this case). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Accidents involving electric scooters have tripled since last year. According to data from the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), there were five accidents on record last year but 14 this year.

Insurance companies have also reported an increase in electric scooter accidents from their traffic and accident insurance claims.

Ülli Reimets, head of the Estonian Insurance Association (EKsL), said that accidents involving electric scooters happen mostly due to fast speeds, and a lack of consideration for others on the road.

Reimets said: "There are three main principles for safety in traffic: Only one person should ride an electric scooter at a time, a helmet is required for everyone under 16 and, in order to avoid accidents, users should reduce speed when nearing pedestrians and roadsides."

"Users have to be especially careful when crossing the road, because the scooter rider is always the weaker party in any collision, and could receive serious injuries."

Rental electric scooters first made their appearance in Tallinn in summer 2019, going under wraps for the winter and reappearing in spring with newer models and two new companies, Tuul and Prime.Bike/Bird joining Bolt, who rolled out their service last year, in Tallinn. Additionally, Bolt has expanded its scooter fleet to Pärnu and Tartu.

Private users with their own, often more powerful, electric scooters add to the traffic.

Rental scooters' top speed cuts off at a little over 20 km/h, and lower in some central Tallinn areas such as Vabaduse väljak.

Jaanus Tanne, head of vehicle damages for insurance company PZU Kindlustus, noted a fatal accident involving an electric scooter in Tartu earlier this year.

"There was an accident in Tartu over the summer where a man died in a collision with a van. He was not wearing a helmet, which could have saved his life," he said.

"It is worrying that more and more accidents are happening involving children. Each morning, we can see youngsters whizzing toward school with no helmet on. Parents: Do not let your children into traffic [on a scooter] without a helmet, and talk to them about safe traffic at home to save them from terrible injuries," Tanne stressed.

According to data from the PPA, more accidents involving regular, unpowered scooters have also taken place. There was one on record in 2018, compared with 13 in 2019 and the same number in the first eight months of 2020.

Caterina Lepvalts, head of the claims settlements department at ERGO Insurance, said falls from scooters lead to cuts, sprains and broken bones.

Lepvalts said: "For example, a nine-year old fell off their scooter in the summer, leading to fractures in his upper arm and toe. He received a payout, but the healing process took a while."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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