Shock rise in e-scooter crashes and motorists not wearing seatbelts

September 29, 2022 by

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Latest road-casualty statistics reveal shocking rise in the number of collisions involving e-scooters and fatal accidents where seatbelts aren’t worn

  • e-scooter crashes up 193% in 2021
  • Up to 47% of car occupants killed in 2021 were not wearing seatbelts
  • UK road deaths rise 7% on 2020 
  • 1,558 people lost their lives on UK roads in 2021 

The latest UK road casualty report has revealed the number of crashes involving  electric scooters skyrocketed by 193% last year, with 1,352 collisions and 1,434 casualties in 2021, up from just 460 and 484 respectively in the previous year.

The data also shows that almost half of all car occupants who lost their lives at night were not wearing a seatbelt.

Shock seatbelt figures

An estimated 30% of car occupants who lost their lives in 2021 were not wearing a seatbelt, the latest figures from the Department for Transport have revealed. That figure rises to 34% for men who lost their lives in cars (for women the figure is 20%), while 47% of car occupants who were killed at night last year were not belted up, and 40% of those aged 17-29 who lost their lives were not wearing a belt.

Those seatbelt figures are significantly worse than recent years, with just 23% of car occupants who died in 2020 not wearing a seatbelt, and 19% in 2013.

Road safety experts have said campaign to counteract the marked rise may be necessary.

E-scooter collisions

A total of 10 e-scooter riders were killed in collisions in 2021, with a further 331 being seriously injured. Crashes involving e-scooters also saw 67 pedestrians and 20 cyclists sustain serious injuries. 

The vast majority of e-scooter riders sustaining injuries in collisions were males between the ages of 10 and 29. A total of 283 men and 88 women aged between 10 and 19 were injured, as were 255 men and 79 women between 20 and 29 years of age. 

London’s Metropolitan Police logged the highest number (523) of e-scooter casualties, with 36.5% of all collisions involving injury or death being recorded in the capital.   

Many crashes involved riders hiring e-scooters from officially approved rental schemes, which provide the only legal route for scooters to be ridden on public roads.

Not all police forces record whether e-scooters involved in crashes were privately owned or officially rented, but with constabularies that do log this data, in some instances significantly more collisions involving rental scooters than private ones were recorded

Police force Private Rental Unknown
Avon and Somerset 8 7 78
Dorset 17 8 2
Hampshire 18 10 37
Merseyside 26 41 0
Metropolitan Police 9 6 485
Northamptonshire 1 22 8
Nottinghamshire 37 33 0

Source: Department for Transport

Road deaths up on 2020, but down on 2019

The figures come from the Department for Transport’s road casualty report for 2021, which shows there was also a rise in the number of deaths on UK roads last year.

A total of 1,558 people lost their lives in traffic collisions in 2021, a 7% increase on 2020, when lockdowns brought significantly reduced traffic. Of those, 682 were car drivers, 310 were motorcyclists, 111 were cyclists and 361 were pedestrians. 

But while the number or people killed on UK roads was down 11% compared to pre-pandemic 2019, there were 5.2 deaths for every billion vehicle miles driven in 2021, up slightly from 5.1 deaths in 2019. There were an estimated 128,209 road casualties in total in 2021, down 16% on 2019, however.

Men remained far more likely to die or be injured in road collisions in 2021, with 78% of fatalities and 62% of all overall casualties being male. 

Despite these tragedies, UK roads remain the sixth safest in the world, behind only Norway, Malta, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland based on accident rates per million people. 

There were 24 deaths per million people in the UK last year. For comparison, that figure is just 14 for Norway, but 129 in the United States of America. 

Commenting on the Government’s latest figures, Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “We were hopeful that the lockdowns and restricted travel throughout the pandemic would reset road deaths, but sadly they have increased from 2020 and a new trend has become more established.

“As e-scooter trials continue across the country, crashes involving e-scooters rose by 193% in 2021 compared to 2020. The wider introduction of micromobility into the national transport picture must look at how we can adopt new and emerging personal mobility tech without compromising the safety of all road users, including pedestrians.

“Great Britain has some of the world’s safest roads, making it to number six in the world league, but the ambition needs for it to be the leader in reducing and eliminating road traffic fatalities. With a new Ministerial Transport team, we strongly urge the new Secretary of State to put road safety front and centre of her priorities.”

Cousens added: “The rate of death while not wearing a seat belt was surging even before covid. There may need to be a road safety campaign…Clearly, the message is being forgotten.”