TRB releases new report identifying deficiencies impacting e-scooter rider safety
07 October 2022
A new research report released by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), E-scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions, finds that amid a rapid rise in the use and prevalence of electric scooters (e-scooters) on US roads and sidewalks, more must be done to address regulatory, infrastructure and educational deficiencies that are putting riders at risk.
The report also calls on State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) to monitor all available data and determine how best to incorporate e-scooters into their behavioral safety plans.
The research was conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in conjunction with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Safe Streets Research and Consulting; Equitable Cities; and Populus.
The report, released under the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program (BTSCRP), found that available data and research evaluating e-scooter safety are lagging behind the rapid adoption and expansion of this form of transportation commonly referred to as micromobility.
According to the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were at least 158 US cities with e-scooter systems as of July 2022, nearly double the 87 systems in operation in 2019. In 2021, the North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association reported these systems generated 52 million e-scooter trips, up more than 50% from 2020. Personal ownership of e-scooters is also growing and projected to increase throughout this decade.
E-scooters, which were a novelty just a few years ago, are here to stay. They are not cost prohibitive for personal use, and scooter-share systems are expanding or launching in more cities every year. Everyone deserves to feel safe on the road, and we must do more to prioritize safety for this growing mode of travel.—Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
The GHSA is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The report discusses the state of use/exposure and safety trends among e-scooter users and markets; characterizes the relationship between e-scooter crashes, injuries and fatalities, and behavioral and environmental contributing factors; summarizes how some cities are working to support, manage and/or regulate the use of e-scooters to prevent and mitigate injuries; and includes case studies highlighting real-world practices.
The BTSCRP report’s findings mirror a previous GHSA report, Understanding and Tackling Micromobility: Transportation’s New Disruptor. That report, published in 2020 and funded by State Farm, identified the following challenges posed by the rapid growth in the use of these devices that have resulted in a patchwork approach to safety that does little to protect these vulnerable road users:
Oversight: Statutes and regulations vary from state to state and/or locality to locality, making it difficult for riders and other road users to know what is permitted and for law enforcement officials to address unsafe behaviors.
Data: Micromobility-involved crashes and injuries are underreported due to the lack of a universal reporting standard.
Infrastructure: Separating transportation modes is the most effective way to reduce crashes. If separate infrastructure does not exist, micromobility riders will go where they feel safe and innovate based on what is available.
Enforcement: Most cities require providers to inform riders about safe operating rules, but enforcement of those rules is the responsibility of local law enforcement officials who may be hampered by the lack of laws and regulations and little or no officer training.
Education: Education is essential for ensuring micromobility users operate these devices safely and respectfully and other road and sidewalk users respect the right of micromobility users to operate on the public way.
The newly released e-scooter report was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). BTSCRP, a collaboration between GHSA, NHTSA and TRB, conducts research to increase understanding of behavioral traffic safety topics and propose practical solutions that can be implemented by SHSOs and other safety stakeholders.
These riders cannot easily be trained, licensed, regulated or moderated.
The manufacturers cannot easily be regulated as speed, distance, and weight caps can be modified by the rider.
As long as we allow bicycles (and facilitate their infrastructure) to mix with other licensed vehicles on moderate-traffic and arterial roads, there will always be rogue elements disrupting traffic, legal signage and rules, pedestrians and others' safety.
Further, their prevailing 'group' philosophy to reduce other small users - cyclists, e-bikes, temporary unloading, roller bladers, etc., from exclusive use of the bike lane indicates an indifference/ aversion to sharing, respecting, or co-operating.
A long segregation process of hard barriers between unlicensed small transportation and licensed transportation combined with the use of rumple strips at road edges and periodic rumple cross-strips to discourage small, unlicensed vehicle mixing is likely the only way. The proliferation of fast-food delivery staff on these micro- systems has exacerbated the situation.
Anything short of a dead-switch circuit chip hard wired to the motor, requiring authorized fob, is likely going to be a partially successful approach.
Posted by: Jer | 07 October 2022 at 05:58 AM