Calls for Electric Scooter Ban in the UK Escalates Following Death of 12-Year-Old Boy

A 12-year-old boy riding an electric scooter collided with a bus in Birmingham, UK last week. Mustafa Nadeem passed away at the scene of the accident. While Police investigations are still underway, the tragedy has sparked afresh calls to ban outright the sale of e-scooters.

There is no confirmation whether the boy was using a rented or private scooter, but the Swedish e-scooter rental company, Voi, has released a statement saying that they are cooperating with the West Midlands Police.

There has been a growing number of complaints against errant e-scooter riders and one report last week of a complaint originating from the rider—a woman is trying to sue the council of Barnet in South London for failing to maintain the road after she hit a pothole while riding an e-scooter and injuring her leg. The council refuses to compensate her for her injuries because she was using a private e-scooter and, well, they are technically illegal and aren’t allowed on the roads anyway.

Private e-scooters are banned in the UK and as the authorities are grappling with the introduction and rising popularity of this new form of transport on public roads, they are allowing trials of e-scooter rental services in certain parts of the UK, with the condition that only those aged 18 and above and with a valid driving license are allowed to ride them. Investigations into the Birmingham incident would certainly include how an underage boy was able to access the rental vehicle.

Even though the Police has warned that they will impound privately owned e-scooters found plying public roads, it doesn’t seem to be deterring online and brick-and-mortar retailers (eg. Amazon UK, Halfords, Argos, etc) from selling the single-person vehicle and ramping up marketing of the “commuter companion” as Christmas approaches.

The authorities are accusing retailers of being “irresponsible” as it is unlikely that many of their customers own huge private lands on which they can ride the e-scooters. Some retailers include warnings of the regulatory limitations, but they are often presented like an afterthought or as fine print.

The Department for Transport believes, though, that e-scooters could help ease the burden on the transport system and plan to extend the trials until May 2024. But the data for the period ending June 2022 show that there are 1,437 casualties and 12 deaths involving e-scooters, more than last year.

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