Eco-friendly mobility is the need of the era, but safety is paramount as well. Of late, e-scooters have become immensely popular in Qatar, especially in the capital Doha. Despite the summer setting in, one can see many e-scooter riders on almost all streets. However, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad Trauma Center has already seen victims with severe e-scooter injuries. There have been reports of many minor to moderate e-scooter injuries needing care at various emergency rooms in Qatar. HMC stressed that the Hamad Injury Prevention Programme does not want it to be inevitable that e-scooters will be the cause of more severe injuries or deaths in Qatar, especially during Ramadan, when kids and other users will ride them mostly at night. Therefore, it has shared the best practice for the use and regulation of e-scooters.
In a press statement the other day, HMC pointed out that “Globally, e-scooters are a new and trendy means of personal transportation potentially improving micromobility for many road users. Recently, there are even e-scooter rideshare options available here in Doha. User convenience, environmental concerns and even transportation costs have all been cited as rationale for their increasing use. While it seems inevitable that the number of scooter users and scooters will increase, what the general public does not know is the great risks they face when using them and what are the proven means of increasing one’s safety when using one.”
Hamad Injury Prevention Programme (HIPP) at Hamad Trauma Center has urged that children below 12 should not be allowed to use e-scooters. New users should practise on a smooth surface in an area specifically designated for e-scooters before going out on the road. Only one user can/should safely use an e-scooter. Carefully inspect and test the e-scooter before using it for the first time to better understand the specifications, features and capabilities of the machine you will be using. On every ride, users of e-scooters must wear a helmet, protective eyewear (goggles), closed shoes, elbow/knee pads and gloves. They must always turn on their lights and wear hi-visibility (or reflective) clothing, regardless if it is day or night. Riding e-scooters at night time, when visibility is poor, should be avoided because it can lead to more severe injuries or fatalities. E-scooter users must be fully focused on driving their vehicles, nothing else. Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times, no texting or selfies while using an e-scooter.
Though e-scooters have been introduced and widely used in many cities and towns across the globe, unfortunately, there is a pattern that has been repeated in almost all these locations. E-scooters have been banned or heavily regulated only after fatalities or severe disabling injuries from multiple e-scooter crashes, a HMC statement pointed out. As more e-scooters are bought and used, more injuries, and even deaths, might happen. In the US, from 2014-2018, with the introduction of ride sharing e-scooter options; there was a 222% increase in e-scooter injuries reported. It is estimated that there were over 50,000 e-scooter injuries per year in the US last year. Globally, more e-scooter users are injured than cyclists.
“HIPP hopes that we can implement and enforce proven regulations that improve the safe use of e-scooters and that Qatar does not have to suffer more fatalities or injuries. Let us not only embrace the new trends for micromobility in Qatar; let us also implement the best practices for e-scooter safety before we have to react to more deaths or severe injuries from unsafe e-scooter use,” said Dr Rafael Consunji, director of HIPP.
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