Hundreds of incidents involving electric scooters, hoverboards and Segways have been reported to UK police this year – including road traffic collisions, anti-social behaviour and criminal damage, Sky News can reveal.
Road safety campaigners have voiced concerns after more than 1,600 incidents involving the transport devices were recorded by forces since the start of 2018.
It comes after YouTube star Emily Hartridge became the first e-scooter rider to be killed in the UK last month, raising fears about the safety of the vehicles.
Her boyfriend Jacob Hazell has now urged the government – which is reviewing whether to allow e-scooters to be ridden legally in public – to ensure roads are safe for their use if the law is changed.
Sky News sent freedom of information requests to the UK’s 45 territorial police forces and British Transport Police (BTP) asking for details of incidents involving e-scooters, Segways and hoverboards between 2016 and July 2019.
In total, 618 incidents were reported in the first half of 2019, compared with 1,017 reported incidents in 2018, 1,123 incidents in 2017 and 1,275 incidents in 2016.
However, the actual number of incidents is likely to be much higher as only 27 forces revealed figures for each year, while Britain’s biggest force – the Metropolitan Police – did not provide information.
Among the forces’ responses:
- Greater Manchester Police recorded 182 incidents in the first half of 2019 including “rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour”, “vehicle nuisance”, “highway disruption”, criminal damage, and robbery or theft from a person
- Leicestershire Police said incidents in 2019 included 36 reports of road traffic collisions which caused damage only and 15 reports of anti-social behaviour
- Nottinghamshire Police received 22 reports of anti-social behaviour, two reports of criminal damage, five reports of “highway disruption” and nine reports of road-related offences
- Cheshire Police said a Segway rider collided with a pram being pushed by a woman and an elderly man was taken to hospital after being hit with an electric scooter
- Cambridgeshire Police received a report of a man being assaulted “with his own hoverboard” and a report of children endangering themselves and motorists by “dangerously riding an electric scooter on a road”
- Northumbria Police received a report of four boys on Segways “playing chicken in the road”
- BTP said one incident involved a person who was a “hazard to members of the public” after riding a hoverboard while using an escalator
The figures included reported thefts of e-scooters, hoverboards and Segways as well as non-crime incidents, while forces said the devices may not be directly linked to some incidents despite being mentioned in reports.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said the number of incidents involving e-scooters was “incredibly concerning, not least because they are illegal to use on public roads and pavements in the UK”.
He told Sky News: “These figures highlight an urgent need for improved public communication on the permitted use of e-scooters, both from government and retailers at the point of sale.
“We also call on the government to accelerate its review of the current regulations on micro-mobility.
“Alternatives to cars are vital with our cities getting ever more congested and polluted, however, the safety implications of new transport modes most be fully explored before they’re permitted to be used.”
Ms Hartridge, 35, died after she was involved in a collision with a lorry while riding an e-scooter in Battersea, southwest London in July.
Her boyfriend, Mr Hazell, described her death as a “freak accident” but said he believed the condition of the road was a “big factor”.
He told Sky News: “If there’s going to be more environmentally-friendly modes of transport on roads, then we have to improve roads in poor condition and invest money to make sure they are safe.
“I believe damage in the road was a big factor in Emily’s accident. It shouldn’t take the death of someone to fix it.”
A day after Ms Hartridge’s death, a 14-year-old boy was taken to hospital in a critical condition when his e-scooter crashed into a bus stop in Beckenham, southeast London.
A man in his 20s was also critically injured after falling off his e-scooter in Primrose Hill, north London later in July.
Meanwhile, outside the UK, an e-scooter rider died in France earlier this month after he was involved in a collision with a motorbike on a Paris motorway.
E-scooters are similar in design to a traditional child’s scooter but are powered by an electric motor, meaning they can reach speeds in excess of 30mph.
They can be used on private property, with the landowner’s permission, but it is illegal to ride them on public roads, cycle lanes or pavements.
Riders can face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence, but many are unaware of the rules which also apply to Segways and hoverboards.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is currently carrying out a review of legislation which could lead to e-scooters being legalised for road use in the UK for the first time.
Campaigners calling for e-scooters to be allowed on UK roads recently staged a protest outside Downing Street, saying the law banning their use is “outdated” and the devices provide an environmentally friendly alternative to cars.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) urged the government to ensure people are protected if e-scooters are allowed on roads in the future.
Nick Lloyd, the charity’s acting head of safety, said: “Technology and user demand has outstripped legislation meaning that vehicles such as e-scooters are illegal to use on our roads.
“RoSPA is calling upon the government look at current laws and to put in place a regulatory framework which will protect all road users in preparation for the eventuality when their use is permitted.”
A DfT spokeswoman said: “Safety is at the heart of our road laws, and people who use e-scooters need to be aware it is currently illegal to ride them on the road and the pavement.
“The government is considering the use of e-scooters as part of its regulatory review and will examine how they can be used safely on roads, while still encouraging innovative new forms of transport.”
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Police are committed to keeping our roads safe for everyone and will give words of advice, educate or take further action when necessary and proportionate.”