The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has warned that preventable deaths, serious injuries, and cases of permanent disability will increase as a direct result of Victoria’s decision to extend e-scooter trials across Melbourne and Ballarat.

The scooters have been a popular mode of transport, particularly since the launch of public hire e-scooters in late 2021 but have also led to a significant increase in trauma presentations across Melbourne and Ballarat Hospitals.

According to data from Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit more than 400 people were admitted to hospital and at least two people were killed in crashes involving e-scooters in 2021-22. This was more than a 234 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

While fractures were the most common form of injury, doctors also noted many serious head and neck presentations which resulted in permanent brain injuries. RACS Victorian Trauma Chair, Dr Christian Kenfield, said the data was alarming and urged the Government to pause the proposed changes until an urgent review could be conducted.

“Since their introduction, e-scooter related trauma has increased substantially, with injuries and deaths in riders, passengers and pedestrians placing further pressure on first responders (ambulance and police) as well as hospital and health systems,” Dr Kenfield said.

“The extension of the trial and added changes will undoubtedly lead to a further increase in presentations, yet there has been almost no consultation with those that have to manage the fallout.

“This type of consultation is incredibly important. We saw just this week in Paris when the public were properly consulted, nine out of ten people voted to remove e-scooters from the city’s streets!

“I am not sure a complete ban is a realistic consideration for Melbourne, but if we are going to continue allowing e-scooters then we must ensure that the appropriate measures are put in place to protect public safety.”

“There are practical examples from elsewhere across the world and in Australia, such as Queensland, where sensible regulatory measures have been put in place in response to massive spikes in e-scooter related trauma.

“We call upon the Government to conduct an urgent review into e-scooters to ensure that we have the adequate surveillance, infrastructure and legislation. In the meantime, we would like to see a series of immediate actions undertaken. These include:

  • Re-enforcing restrictions on private e-scooter use
  • Reversing the decision to Lower the legal riding age to 16
  • Ensuring that police are adequately resourced and empowered to enforce the rules to all riders breaking the rules or riding dangerously.”

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