Sharp increase in e-scooter accidents in Oslo leads to calls for stricter rules

Senior doctors at Oslo University hospital have called for companies renting out electric scooters to introduce new rules for users after a steep rise in the number of accidents involving the devices.

Sharp increase in e-scooter accidents in Oslo leads to calls for stricter rules
There has been a sharp increase in scooter accidents. Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

In June, around 14 people a day were admitted to Oslo University Hospital (OUS) after being in an accident involving an electric scooter, according to the doctors at the hospital.

Doctors at the hospital have now urged the companies renting the scooters to step up and introduce a curfew and blood alcohol limit for those renting scooters.

“We probably do not have a single activity at the moment that is the cause of as many injuries as electric scooters,” Senior Doctor at OUS Henrik Siverts said at a press conference. 

There have been 856 scooter accidents registered in Oslo in the first six months of this year, with almost half of those coming in June alone, according to figures from OUS’s accident and emergency department. While there are no exact figures, it is estimated that there are more than 10,000 rental scooters in Oslo.  

A large proportion of those accidents happen during weekends at night, and half of those injured in accidents had been drinking alcohol. 

Doctors from OUS said that the influx of accidents has put the hospital under a lot of strain and that the hospital has to have extra staff on weekends to deal with the large volume of scooter accidents. They also said that the easing of measures in Oslo during May and June contributed to the rise in accidents. 

“We have had to up the numbers of staff on weekends, both doctors and nurses to take care of electric scooter accidents,” Siverts said. 

Another doctor Tina Gaarder, said that although there have not been any fatalities in Oslo yet, many patients have suffered life-changing head injuries. 

The hospital has suggested that the scooter companies introduce a blood alcohol limit and a curfew between 11 pm and 5 am to cut down on the number of accidents. 

“We do not understand why the rental companies do not take responsibility or why the municipalities don’t introduce new rules,” Siverts said. 

“We do not want to ban electric scooters; we want to ban drunk people from using them at night,” Gaarder added. 

One of the companies that rents scooters, Voi, has said it agree’s that drunk people should not be allowed to use the scooters but argued that the responsibility lies with the authorities rather than with them. 

“It is important that the police exercises more control and that the government clarifies the regulations by introducing a blood alcohol limit. Voi has been asking for this for almost two years,” Øystein Sundelin, spokesperson for Voi, told state broadcaster NRK.

Transport minister Knut Arild Hareide told NRK that the government was working to introduce regulations on electric scooters in Norway. 

“We are working to introduce regulations. We are working on getting a blood alcohol limit in place. This is an area (electric scooters) where more regulation is needed,” he said. 

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Have Oslo’s new electric scooter rules reduced accidents?

New rules were brought in to combat the sharp rise in accidents and injuries involving electric scooters in Oslo. But, one month later, have the new regulations done the job?  

Have new rules had an impact on the number of accidents involving scooters in Oslo. Pictured it two e-scooters parked outside a

New rules brought in to cut down on the number of e-scooter accidents in Norway’s capital appear to have had the desired effect as incidents were more halved in September, when the rules were introduced, compared to the month before. 

This is according to figures from Oslo University Hospital’s (OUS) emergency department that have been obtained by newspaper Aftenposten

The Emergency Medical Service in Oslo registered 143 injuries in connection with electric scooters in September. In August, the month before measures were brought in, there were 301 injuries.’

Compared to the peak of accidents in June, where 436 injuries were recorded, incidents are down by almost two-thirds. 

“We are very happy. This is what we hoped for,” Henrik Siverts, chief physician at OUS’s emergency department, told the newspaper Aftenposten

‘We feared it would happen’: Oslo sees first death of electric scooter rider

Among the new stricter rules introduced for rental scooters, which included significantly cutting the number of devices in the city, was a curfew that prevented people from using them between 11pm and 5am. 

Siverts said that the curfew had a dramatic effect in reducing accidents at night. 

“Unsurprisingly, accidents have gone down at night time. What injuries we do get at night are probably people who privately own their scooters. But accidents have also gone down during the day, too,” he explained.  

Just eight injuries were recorded in September at night, compared to just under 100 in August. 

Over the summer, a surge in accidents meant accident and emergency departments in Oslo were forced to have more staff on during weekends. Still, as a result of the reduction in scooter accidents, staffing has now returned to normal. 

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