We've conducted the first ever crash testing of e-scooters in the UK, and the results show that an e-scooter colliding with a pedestrian at 15.5mph could cause fatal injury.
The outcomes of our crash testing
The independent study by leading crash test provider UTAC, commissioned by Guide Dogs, found that the initial impact could cause moderate injury such as lacerations, or major bruising. However, if the pedestrian was to hit their head on the floor as a result of the collision, the injuries sustained are highly likely to be fatal.
Further testing was carried out on a smaller crash test dummy, equivalent to a three-year-old child, with the child dummy travelling more than 21 feet, more than six times its body length, as a result of the impact.
We're raising awareness around the risks of illegally used privately owned e-scooters, of which sales have boomed alongside government-approved hire schemes.
If the Government is seriously considering fully legalising e-scooters on public roads, they need to get a grip on safety, Our testing shows that everybody is at risk, not just people with visual impairments.
Chris Theobald, Senior Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs
Worrying poll results
A YouGov poll for Guide Dogs found almost one in ten people see e-scooters on a daily basis, and nearly three quarters of people say they have seen e-scooters being ridden on pavements, where pedestrians are most at risk.
New research by OnePoll, commissioned by Guide Dogs, found that a third (33 per cent) of people reported negative experiences with an e-scooter, and that number almost doubles (64 per cent) when it comes to people with a visual impairment.
This is cause for concern as more and more e-scooters are likely to be headed for our streets, with 23 per cent of people saying they plan to give or expect to receive an e-scooter this Christmas.
The crash testing showed the impact of e-scooters travelling at 15.5mph, the top speed of the UK’s most popular privately-owned model and government-approved rental schemes. But worryingly, e-scooters reaching speeds of up over 68mph are currently available to buy in the UK, and riders may modify e-scooters to increase their top speed.
The new OnePoll research revealed that the average speed private e-scooter riders admitted to regularly driving is over 16mph, with nearly a third (31 per cent) admitting to hitting top speeds of higher than 21mph. The high speeds and popularity of e-scooters come with little understanding of the law, with less than half (47 per cent) of people knowing it is illegal to ride a privately owned e-scooter on public land. However, nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of those who ride privately owned e-scooters do so despite knowing it is illegal.
E-scooters and people with sight loss
Elaine Maries, a guide dog owner from Milton Keynes knows only too well the risks these vehicles pose. “As someone with sight loss, it’s difficult for me to know when an e-scooter is coming as they travel at fast speeds silently.
“My guide dog Inca and I were once hit by a rider. I was putting her into her harness on the pavement outside my home. I could hear two voices getting closer and the next thing I knew I was hit with such a force that I was knocked over and into Inca.
“It was extremely unsettling as I had no idea what had hit me. Only afterwards was I told by a passing pedestrian that it was an e-scooter that had hit me. Luckily, neither Inca or I were injured from the incident, but as this crash testing shows, it could have been so much worse.”
Chris Theobald, Senior Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said: “The trials of e-scooter hire schemes have sparked a boom in private sales, and we expect even more e-scooters to be bought as Christmas presents this month. We are urging the Government to work with the police to tackle illegal riding and make the public more aware of the law.
“If the Government is seriously considering fully legalising e-scooters on public roads, they need to get a grip on safety, Our testing shows that everybody is at risk, not just people with visual impairments.
“Any legislation to legalise e-scooters has to fully address speeds, weights, sound, and critically, keep e-scooters off the pavement where they can do significant harm.”