The number of road accidents involving an electric scooter has already quadrupled in Estonia this year compared with 2019, Tartu Postimees reported.
In 2019, five accidents involving an electric scooter where a person was injured were recorded but so far this year 21 accidents have taken place. Of the three more serious such accidents, two took place in Tartu.
The most severe accident took place in the Karlova district of Tartu this summer, when a 49-year-old man driving a scooter died after a collision with a van. The victim was not wearing a helmet.
Increasing numbers of accidents are taking place with children who are often hurrying to school with a scooter and sometimes do not wear a helmet. The most common injuries when falling from a scooter are an open wound, dislocation, and a fracture.
In the summer, a nine-year-old child sustained a humerus fracture and a bunion fracture after falling from a scooter.
The Traffic Act treats an electric scooter not as a vehicle but as a technical aid of a pedestrian, and hence the same rules apply to users of electric scooters as do to pedestrians. Consequently, electric scooters should be restricted to sidewalks and pedestrian paths. Wearing a helmet is not mandatory and no speed limit applies to the "technical aid" used by a pedestrian, Tartu Postimees said.
"The dangers entailed in the use of electric scooters are to do specifically with speed and bold driving," Kerly Virk, spokesperson for the police, said. "The speed of scooters is often 25 to 35 kilometers per hour when driving between pedestrians, which poses a risk to the users of the scooters as well as to pedestrians alike."
While rental scooters of companies such as Bolt have speed limits which do not allow users to develop speeds higher than 20 kmh, privately owned electric scooters are free of such restrictions.
Setting conditions on the use of electric scooters when it comes to speed is not an issue for Estonia alone, and solutions for it are being sought also by other countries. Amendments to the Traffic Act to set out a clearer framework of rules are yet to be discussed by the Riigikogu.
Editor: Helen Wright