Number of e-scooter accidents in Berlin more than doubled in 2021
The number of accidents involving e-scooters in Berlin rose considerably in 2021. Despite operators pointing to increased usage as one of the causes behind the surge, new legislation will introduce stricter regulations on the use of electric scooters.
E-scooter accidents in Berlin skyrocket
Since e-scooters were first introduced to German streets they have exploded in popularity. However, they have polarised the German public with many people seeing the electric mode of transport as dangerous, while proponents argue they are clean and efficient. In Berlin alone, there are currently more than 20.000 e-scooters that can be rented.
Those who see the scooters as dangerous often point to the high number of accidents, an argument that has been lent more credence by recent data. In response to a request from MP Oliver Friederici, it was revealed that 775 accidents involving e-scooters were registered between January and November in 2021. This is more than double the number of accidents registered over the whole of 2020 (325).
The number of injuries arising from e-scooter accidents also rose significantly in 2021. In the first 11 months of 2021, 572 injuries were recorded, whereas in 2020, there were only 235 injuries. According to the Berlin-Brandenburg Statistics Office, a total of 13.625 people were injured in traffic accidents in the first 11 months of 2021, with e-scooter injuries making up 4 percent of this. At the same time, the number of e-scooter accidents only makes up 1 percent of the total road traffic accidents.
Number of accidents blamed on more trips
Despite the considerable rise in accidents, e-scooter providers argue that they are generally a safe means of transport. They explain that the rising accident rate is a result of more people using the scooters, especially since Germany’s coronavirus restrictions were a lot more relaxed in 2021 than they were in the first year of the pandemic. "This led to more trips with e-scooters as well as with other means of transport," said Sebastian Schlebusch, spokesman for the micro-mobility working group in the "Platform Shared Mobility" association. "Measured in terms of the kilometres actually driven, the number of accidents is even declining, as the feedback from the insurers shows us."
It is true that e-scooters were used more in 2021 than in 2020. Micro-mobility startup Voi revealed that, in Berlin, the number of e-scooter trips was five times higher in 2021, with around 10.000 e-scooter trips being taken each day. A company spokesperson said that any accidents that do occur usually happen during someone’s first trip, as users tend to underestimate the vehicle.
Stricter regulations in the pipeline
Last year, a new road law was passed in the House of Representatives and is due to come into effect in September. The new law offers provisions for the regulation of rental vehicles, including special permits being required for providing e-scooters on a commercial level, which means fees for the providers. The state will also be able to limit the number of providers and vehicles and prohibit the vehicles from being parked in certain areas.
Regulation on a special usage fee is also being drawn up. "Several criteria for determining the pricing are checked, such as the type of vehicle, the location - inner city / outskirts - or the type of drive," explained Matthias Borowski, spokesman for the Senate Mobility Administration. It is not yet known how high these fees will be, but they are expected to be higher in metropolitan areas and cheaper in the outskirts of a city.
A one-year transition phase is to be included in the regulation, so stricter regulation will not be enforceable until next year. "The special use permit requirement will come into force in September 2022, and a first level of regulation will already be possible from this point in time," said Borowski. "Stricter regulations are scheduled to take effect a year later."
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