Ride safe: proper use of an electric scooter
Electric scooters are the latest mode of transport taking the UK by storm. Although similar in appearance to kick scooters, electric models are battery powered making them easier and more efficient to ride.
However, as fun as they are, electric scooters come with plenty of associated safety concerns. Being aware of the risks and how to protect yourself will keep you safe on your scooter. We have outlined what steps you can take to ensure you are riding safely, whilst still maximising your enjoyment.
When riding, safety equipment is of the utmost importance. Being motorised vehicles that can reach significant speeds, electric scooters – when ridden recklessly – can be dangerous.
Although it is illegal to ride an electric scooter on roads or pavements in the UK, a significant risk still exists while riding off the public highway – so appropriate safety equipment must be worn.
Wear a helmet while riding an e-scooter
A Helmet is arguably the most vital piece of safety equipment. It will provide protection against head injury, which in a serious case could be fatal.
There are some unfortunate statistics available regarding e-scooter accidents, which make for grim reading. At one American academic hospital in southern California, head injuries accounted for 40% of electric scooter injuries admitted to the Emergency Room during 2018. Yet only 4.4% of those riders were wearing a helmet.
What should you look for when choosing a helmet?
Always opt for a reputable brand
Don’t buy knock off, or sub-par quality helmets just because they are cheaper.
Ensure that your helmet fits properly
It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose. Most importantly, it must be comfortable to wear. A well-fitting helmet won’t obscure your vision. If possible, ask a friend to help you measure the circumference of you head for a more accurate fit.
It’s wise to consider weight when buying a helmet
A lightweight option that is still strong enough to provide enough protection is the ideal combination. A heavy helmet will be uncomfortable to wear and will quickly make your neck ache!
A good helmet will always have chin straps
Without chin straps, the helmet will not be secure on your head. It could easily come off if you were to fall from your scooter, rendering it useless.
Find a helmet which strikes a good balance between form and function
While it is more important to consider safety over style, if you buy a helmet that you don’t like the look of or don’t feel comfortable wearing in public, you will obviously be far less likely to wear it.
Knee and elbow pads
Elbow Pads and Knee pads are other vital pieces of safety equipment to be worn when out on your electric scooter. Elbows and knees often take the brunt of a fall, making them more prone to injury.
Good quality pads will provide protection from nasty scrapes and absorb the shock of a fall – helping to prevent more serious injuries like bone fractures.
As with a helmet, you should always buy high quality knee and elbow pads manufactured for a reputable brand. Don’t compromise safety for the sake of a few pounds.
It’s also essential to ensure the pads are comfortable, but not too restrictive. Elasticated models with adjustable straps are often a sensible choice.
A well-designed electric scooter will have lights built in as standard, increasing your visibility at night or in poor weather conditions. However, we would recommend that you also wear reflective safety accessories, such as a reflective jacket, trainers or detachable clothing accessories.
Keep on top of scooter maintenance
Regular maintenance of your electric scooter is essential to ensure it remains safe to ride. If any element of your scooter, such as your brakes, is not operating properly a dangerous scenario could arise.
First and foremost, you should refer to the instruction manual that will have been included with your e-scooter. It will outline what general inspections you could carry out. Important things to keep on top of as an electric scooter owner include:
- Tightening any loose bolts or screws
- Ensuring your tyres remain at an ideal Pressure
- Regularly checking that brake pads have not worn to a dangerous level
- Checking that lights are functioning
Always ride solo
It can be tempting to allow your friend to hop on the back of your scooter while you’re riding. Unfortunately, electric scooters are designed for one person only; they are not large enough to hold two, nor are they capable of remaining stable under excessive load.
Having an extra person aboard will also be a cause for distraction, which could lead to you being unaware of hazards in your path.
Mind your speed
If you are a confident rider in an open space, you may feel comfortable testing the boundaries of your scooter. If you are riding in an area with lots of obstacles reduce your speed. Hitting a solid obstruction, such as a wall, at just 25 KM/H could be fatal.
Likewise, if you are an inexperienced rider it is not safe to push your scooter to its limit. Instead, take your time and get to grips with correct and safe technique.
If you do feel the need for speed, it is vital that you regularly inspect your brake pads and keeping on top of maintenance. Equally, be sure to keep a sensible braking distance, ensuring that you can stop in time if an unexpected obstacle were to arise.
Choose your riding location wisely
In the UK, it is illegal to ride an electric scooter on the road or pavement, meaning you don’t have to worry about keeping safe on busy roads. However, it is still advisable to consider location carefully. For example, ensure that your model is equipped to ride on certain terrain.
If you’re planning to go off-road, check that your chosen route is actually suitable for an electric scooter – for example, steep paths or particularly rough tracks could make your journey unsafe.
Keep an eye on your scooter’s battery
It’s sensible to familiarise yourself with your scooter’s battery capabilities and mileage – this information will be included in your instruction manual. Before heading out on a journey, always ensure that you have enough battery power to cover your intended route.
While out and about, remember to double check that you’re not approaching your mileage limits – running out of juice miles from your destination could leave you with a very long journey to make on a push scooter! As annoying as this may be, it could also leave you in an unsafe situation or location.