From Iceland — Electric Scooters, Alcohol And Accidents

Electric Scooters, Alcohol And Accidents

Published October 7, 2021

Desirai Thompson
Photo by
Rick Richards/Wikimedia Commons

Data shows that 245 people have visited the emergency department at Landspítali due to electric scooter accidents over the summer months, Vísir reports. Over the same June, July and August period last year, 149 accidents required a visit to the emergency department.

During the summer 2021 period, 72 of those were children, only a slight increase from last summer when the number was 68.

It is estimated that about one million electric scooter trips have been taken in the capital areas this summer. Roughly 20,000 electric scooters are privately owned in Iceland.

Alcohol-related riding accidents

There seems to be a connection between alcohol consumption and increased risk of electric bike injury. Most of the accidents occurred late on weekend nights, between 23:00 and 05:00. The average number of people who had to go to the hospital on weekends is 3.7, while during the week that average is 2.2.

Poor infrastructure and uneven surfaces are also a important factors in e-scooter accidents that are often out of the hands of riders.

Almost all major electric scooter rental companies explicitly ban the use of their devices while intoxicated. Two or more people riding at the same time is also often banned, however both of these practices are incredibly common. In light of the rise in accidents, VSÓ Ráðgjaf and the City of Reykjavík produced a poster (only in Icelandic, for now!) reminding users of safe riding practices and rules.

electric scooter

City of Reykjavík

Talk of weekend bans

Earlier this summer, a report on traffic safety prepared for the City of Reykjavík urged the banning of these scooters on weekends. While no movement has been made on a weekend ban yet, Guðbrandur Sigurðsson, assistant chief of police in the traffic department has expressed interest in a ban.

In a June interview with RÚV he said, “I find it a very interesting proposal. We know examples from the Nordic countries, which we often refer to, Denmark and Sweden. Late in the evening and at night, especially on weekends, it is not possible to rent these bikes in some places.”

Sæunn Ósk Unnsteinsdóttir, managing director or Hopp, one of the biggest electric scooter rental companies in Iceland, said at the time that he believed this course of action to be “completely wrong”.

Creative mitigation

Some cities have chosen to lower the top speed allowed on e-scooters. Last month Helsinki reduced the speed of electric scooters from 25 kph to 20 kph during the day and down to 15 kph from midnight to 5:00.

Companies like Bird and Voi have introduced puzzles or reaction tests users must complete before rental to help reduce the opportunity for drunk riding.

The above report also states that many countries have capped the number of electric scooters able to be rented at the same time.

Due to their low cost and high popularity coupled with the environmentally-friendly nature of this fuel-free mode of transportation, there is a strong desire for these scooters to remain on the streets. However, not only does safety need to be improved from the rider’s standpoint, the infrastructure must also be maintained to reduce accidents largely out of their control.

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