Late July, Turin: an 18-year-old boy falls while walking along a downtown street with the electric scooter. In the accident he beats his head and causes a slight head injury. More serious was that of a thirty-one year old who in Milan, a few days earlier, collided with a van in the middle of an intersection. Operated in an emergency, she is admitted to intensive care. It is no better in Rome, where an over 80-year-old loses his balance, falls off his scooter and is taken to the hospital in red code.
They are just some of the accidents registered by the Scooter Observatory of the Association of Supporters and Friends of the Traffic Police (Asaps). Born in June 2019 for monitor the safety of the new means of transport, expanding especially since the post lockdown, when electric scooters increased their presence in Italian cities to promote mobility and reduce the use of public transport. Like trams and metro, where social distancing is more difficult to guarantee.
Scooter: Accident boom in the summer
The boom in injuries occurred mainly in the summer months. If until June 2020 the Observatory – which reports only the most serious cases – had cataloged 22 accidents (including one death, which occurred in Budrio, in the province of Bologna), June and July 2020 they were instead 43. Almost always the error is human. Incorrect behavior on the part of drivers, such as driving impaired by alcohol or driving disregarding the rules (the wrong way around, traveling in two and passages with red traffic lights the most frequent infringements). Considering that in 2018, according to the latest Istat data available, 222 people died due to bicycle accidents, the numbers of accidents on scooters may seem harmless.
But experts disagree, according to which they should sound like a alarm bells for the future. In the next few years, the presence of scooters on the roads will be even more massive and the safety issue must be a priority. “The new means of electric micro-mobility will change the face of many cities from a road network point of view,” writes Giordano Biserni, president of Asaps. “If it is not immediately understood that they must be conducted with the utmost attention and with strict observance of the highway code, we will see an increase in the number of accidents in all age groups”.
To fight to make electric scooters safer, which since last March have been considered vehicles because they are equated to bicycles, also the Italian Society of Traumatology of the Road (Socitras). “For those involved in traumatology and road safety, electric scooters are of concern”, the president begins Andrea Costanzo. «They also circulate in the evening, they are often black, with their presence signaled only by microscopic rear lights, a few centimeters from the ground. Sometimes they also carry two people on board, without reflective vests, and often travel at high speed. We need tougher regulation on their use and on the use of protective tools, such as helmets, lights, jackets ».
The regulations are there, but there has been very little awareness on the subject. “How many people do we see with reflectors? They can be counted on the fingers of one hand », the orthopedist continues. “We have been fighting with Socitras for a year tocompulsory helmet be extended also to the age of majority. A scooter accident almost always results in head or facial trauma, and a blow to the head can have serious lifelong consequences. A fall at a speed of 30 km / h can cause skull fractures and brain injuries ».
The rules to follow on a scooter
- They can travel on cycle paths in town and on urban streets where the limit of 50 km / h is foreseen;
- Outside the city they can only circulate on cycle paths parallel to the roads: the limit is 25 km / h;
- In the pedestrian areas the limit does not go beyond 6 km / h;
- Forbidden go on ring roads, theoretically also on sidewalks and pedestrian crossings;
- They cannot guide them i minors 14 years;
- Only minors must put the helmet;
- After half an hour after sunset, drivers must wear jacket O suspender catarifrangenti;
- The parking area it is regulated: the scooters cannot be abandoned wherever they happen, they should be parked in the appropriate spaces or in the bicycle racks (already few for bikes, actually);
- To ride a scooter is not required patent neither insurance.
Low perception of risk
According to Daniela Frisone, traffic psychologist and president of the association Prevention Safety and Health (Psics) is awareness needs to be raised in drivers. Especially since they don’t yet perceive the electric scooter as potentially risky. “Its appearance is deceiving. It gives the impression of being slow and easy to control, but in reality the electric motors are powerful and the controls sensitive. While the small wheels make it more unstable than a bike or a motorbike, especially in some areas of the city, with cobbles and tram tracks », the expert points out. On a psychological level, approaching a means of transport lightly, as if it were a toy, is obviously dangerous. Because «it is amply proven to be correct perception of risk is one of the most influential motivational factors in adopting protective and prudent behaviors while driving », continues the psychologist.
Do you test alcohol before renting the scooter?
For their part, the manufacturing companies are not completely indifferent to the problems that are arising. A Swedish company, leader in Europe in the field of electric scooters, launched the first alcohol test. Active on the application for booking the scooter between one and four in the morning, capable of detecting the reflections of users in a few seconds through a game. To pass the test and be allowed to rent the vehicle, it is necessary to achieve a score of at least 60%.
“The future will see us spend long journeys combining various means”, concludes Frisone, “however the important thing is that mobility remain aware. And it does not completely replace the physiological needs of our body ». Translated: scooter, bike, motorbike, car yes. But let’s not forget to walk and provide the body with the movement and physical activity it needs every day.