In recent years, despite a sharp decrease in traffic accidents in general, the numbers associated with the use of electric scooters have increased given the widespread usage.
Einar Magnús Magnússon, an expert at the Department of Transportation’s safety and education, reports in Vísir that traffic accidents have decreased throughout the years due to wider public awareness about traffic safety, and safety requirements. An informed population makes wiser decisions. Also, newer vehicles are safer. Nevertheless, traffic accidents are still frequent. The vast majority of these accidents is due to speeding by younger drivers.
Since 2007 traffic violations were decreased due to effective measures
The way the system is set since 2007 meant that those with a temporary driver’s license could not commit traffic violations more than four times. The driver would most likely lose the driver’s license once four points for violations were added. This, according to Einar Magnús, worked as a deterrent discouraging young drivers to engage in risky behaviour. As a result, accidents have dramatically decreased since then.
When it comes to scooters, helmets are not provided by the electric scooters’ providers. This adds to the fact that, although strictly forbidden, there are no severe penalties for drinking and riding. If you are a regular Reykjavík nightlife party-goer, chances are you probably ran into an inebriated individual struggling to unlock an electric scooter with the cell phone. Also, no license is required for scooters. This, in turn, diminishes the effectiveness of any punitive measures. Finally, some users of electric bikes go above the standard 25 km/h, even reaching the speed of 75 km/h. Einar Magnús reminds us that in such cases we are talking about a completely different purpose for the vehicle and this is subject to registration. Last but not least, parents should take responsibility for their children’s actions which puts at risk their safety and the safety of others.
Electric scooters: a solution to mobility or a traffic safety hazard
There have been 104 serious electric bike accidents from January to September this year compared to 27 last year. And there may be some more who went directly to the hospital emergency room. If this continues, we may be heading towards a total ban on scooters, Einar Magnús says. In other words, the police force had to be mobilized to attend to people injured on scooters, often due to drunkenness, and irresponsible behaviour. Time and effort could be put elsewhere.
Scooters, this highly individualised means of transportation, are understandably popular in Reykjavik. People who do not own a car can struggle to go around. For example, if you are buying groceries you might come to realise that the products you want are spread across several different supermarkets all over town. The bus system can feel limiting at times if you plan to do some sightseeing outside the capital region. Scooters, run with lithium-ion-based batteries, may not be ideal when it comes to sustainable solutions but have effectively filled a gap in urban mobility. People with disabilities perhaps did not partake in this “mobility democratisation”. However, it is undeniable that although chaotic sometimes, electric scooters made Reykjavik more accessible for some.
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