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E-scooters for rent on a sidewalk in Munich: "Occasional riders are younger on average, use rental scooters almost exclusively for trips in their free time and ride on the sidewalk more often"

Photo: Wolfgang Maria Weber / IMAGO

The city administration in Paris has already pulled the emergency brake. Since the beginning of September, e-scooters have been prohibited for rent on the side of the road. The increasing proliferation on the pavement increasingly frustrated many residents, the majority of whom finally spoke out against the vehicles.

In Germany, too, there is a discussion about whether such a ban would make sense. Because here, too, improperly parked small electric vehicles (as they are called in official German) block the roads.

Another problem is that of road safety. The discussion is given new nourishment by figures from the German Insurance Association (GDV). Last year, the insurance industry spent a total of 15.1 million euros to compensate for damage caused by such scooter accidents. There were 4200 cases.

According to the ADAC traffic club, the police registered a total of 2022 accidents involving small electric vehicles in 8260, 49 percent more than in the previous year. There were eleven deaths (ten of whom were on a scooter) and almost 8800 injured (of which more than 80 percent were traveling on a scooter). According to the information, there were a total of 288,000 accidents with personal injury on German roads across all modes of transport.

The greatest danger with scooters is apparently not the large majority of scooters that are privately owned. Rather, 2350 damages were caused by e-scooters from rental companies such as "Tier", "Lime" or "Bolt", although fewer of them are permitted.

"Occasional riders are younger on average, use rental scooters almost exclusively for trips in their free time and ride more often on the sidewalk," says GDV Managing Director Jörg Asmussen. He warns that an above-average number of pedestrians will fall victim to e-scooters.

"On average, personal injury costs more than 13,000 euros, for example for treatment costs, loss of work and compensation for pain and suffering," says Asmussen. According to the insurance association, this is quite a large sum. This is shown by a comparison with a passenger car: In the event of an accident with personal injury, this causes costs of around 21,000 euros. However, this figure also includes the property damage to be settled in this accident, which is significantly higher for a car than for an e-scooter to cause an accident.

The insurance statistics do not show any damage to e-scooter riders who caused accidents. This is because these are not covered by liability. If a driver is injured, health insurance or private accident insurance usually pays.

Asmussen does not want a ban on e-scooters, but at least requires a moped driver's license as a prerequisite for operating such a small electric vehicle. A feature in the app of rental companies could also test the responsiveness of scooter riders and identify those who are obviously under the influence of drugs, especially alcohol. According to the statistics of the insurers, in more than 20 percent of the accidents, the driver's ability to drive was restricted, and drunk people often drove on the sidewalk. In seven percent of cases, excessive speed is the reason for having an accident with the e-scooter.

E-scooters were approved for road traffic by the then Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer (CSU). Under pressure from the e-scooter rental companies, a helmet requirement or a driver's license was waived as a prerequisite for rental. Also, no turn signals had to be installed, the driver could also indicate by hand signal in which direction one wanted to turn. But driving one-handed is difficult, which is why many scooter riders do without it. The responsible authorities had expressly warned of the accident risks posed by the scooters. As a compromise, a speed limit of 20 kilometers per hour was ordered.

The municipalities have already reacted to the flood of scooters in many places and banned parking in accident-prone places.