Spike in electric scooter accidents: 'There's no chance I'll ride one of those again'

National Road Safety Authority data shows increase in fatalities and injuries from electric scooters, especially among young people, with one out of 10 victims under 16; Dror, who was hit by a bus and underwent la ong rehabilitation: 'It's a crime that it's still legal' 

Dan Raban|
Electric scooter accidents in Israel are no longer just Tel Aviv's problem. About 70% of all victims in accidents involving electric scooters in 2023 were outside the city where the trend began. While Tel Aviv still leads with 362 victims last year, other cities like Holon, Ramat Gan, Ashdod and Jerusalem are not far behind in terms of number of accidents involving electric scooters.
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Sharp increase in injuries and fatalities from eletric scooters
According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Or Yarok organization, 1,157 people were injured in electric scooter accidents in 2023, compared to 1,103 in 2022, a rise of about 5%. On average, about three people are injured in scooter accidents each day.
According to the National Road Safety Authority, from January to April this year, three people were killed in electric scooter accidents, compared to a total of three deaths last year and four in 2022. The data also shows a sharp 20% increase in severe injuries in electric scooter accidents last year, with one in every 10 victims children and teenagers under the age of 16, despite this being the age at which one can legally ride an electric scooter. This marks a staggering 32% spike in the number of victims under 16 compared to 2022.
Dror Asia, 34, a Tel Aviv resident, swears he'll never ride an electric scooter again. "In 2022, I was riding a shared electric scooter from Masaryk Square to the Carmel Market," Asia said, stressing that he used the scooter legally, at a speed of about 10-15 km/h, wearing a helmet, and riding on the road.
"A bus driving beside me veered into the right lane, hit me, knocked me down, and then ran over my left leg. The driver didn't even notice, but people yelled at him, and he stopped and got off. I was hospitalized for 11 days with 10 fractures in my leg and underwent about a year of recovery. The accident happened just when my daughter was born; she was only three months old then. I realized I could have died that day, easily, and today I prefer to wait 10 more minutes for the bus, walk or even buy a car, but there's no chance I'll ride a scooter or electric bike again. In my eyes, it's a crime that it's still legal," he said.
However, not all scooter riders are law-abiding like Dror, and many admit to riding without helmets or under the influence of substances.
Anna, for example, rode a scooter while under the influence of alcohol. "About six months ago, I went out with friends and had a few drinks. Around 4:00 in the morning, I took a scooter and rode home through the Rail Park in Tel Aviv, stopping on the way to buy some groceries. I didn't feel drunk, and it was a short ride on a bike lane, which I've been doing almost every day for the past five years on such scooters, so I wasn't worried. My next memory is waking up in Ichilov Hospital, like in a movie, seeing a ceiling and three paramedics above me on a stretcher. In hindsight, I saw from security cameras in one of the bars in the area that I lay on the path for about five minutes unconscious, and nobody passed by because of the hour."
"I don't know what caused me to fall. Either the bag of groceries on the handlebars made me lose balance, or I slipped from the dampness caused by the sprinklers on the path. If I hadn't been drunk and without a helmet, I would have sued the municipality, but that's not the case," she added, admitting that she wasn't wearing a helmet on the shared scooter she took. "Even if there was a helmet, I wouldn't have worn it," she added.
Anna broke her cheekbone, which hasn't fully healed to this day, dislocated her shoulder and received several scrapes, some of which left scars. "I just see people riding scooters without helmets, and I want to jump on them and save them from themselves. The traumatic experience isn't the physical aspect; it's just lying there in the middle of the night. It could have ended very badly. I have friends who were terrified by my accident and don't ride anymore, but there are also those who apparently need to experience it firsthand. I hope they make it illegal," she said.
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Anna: 'I want to save people from themselves'
In an attempt to deal with the increase in accidents and particularly the lack of adequate enforcement, the Knesset's Economic Committee approved last year a regulation that will require all scooter and electric bike riders to affix an identification plate to their vehicles, similar to cars and motorcycles, starting August 1, 2024.
The electric scooter regulation was first proposed by government minister Israel Katz six years ago. However, it appears that most Israelis are not rushing to register their vehicles on the Transportation Ministry website. According to website data, only 4,000 have registered so far, which is a drop in the ocean out of Israel's hundreds of thousands of electric scooters. The Transportation Ministry soon will launch a campaign to increase the number of registrations.
According to the regulations published by the ministry, during the first year, until August 2025, the fine for riding an unregistered electric scooter or electric bike with an identification plate will be only 100 shekels. After a year, the fine will increase significantly to 750 shekels.
Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality began enforcing the identification plate regulation in early 2020 by requiring shared scooter companies to add a plate to each scooter. However, enforcement in the city is partial, at least until the new regulations come into effect this summer.
Despite the grim statistics and numerous accidents, it seems the regulations and the increased fines are not particularly effective in curbing illegal and dangerous scooter riding.
"The number of victims in accidents with electric scooters is constantly increasing," said Yaniv Jacob, CEO of Or Yarok. "The use of electric vehicles has become more and more popular in recent years, but traffic police have not been added, and many cities have not paved safe bike paths for riders at all. In addition, many ride without a helmet, disobey traffic laws and makes pedestrians feel unsafe. This chaos must be changed through enforcement and a safer riding space."
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