14-Year-Old Boy Kills A Grandmother While Riding an Electric Scooter
E-Scooter injuries and fatalities are rising dramatically.
A 14-year-old British boy has pleaded guilty to causing the death of a grandmother while riding an electric scooter. The teenager was riding a privately owned e-scooter when he hit Linda Davis, 71, while she was walking on a sidewalk in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire, on June 2, 2022. The woman was taken to the hospital but died six days later, the UK Times reported.
Read on to find out how the judge responded to the boy's plea, and how big a problem e-scooter accidents have become on both sides of the pond, and why authorities face a challenge in reigning them in.
Privately Owned E-Scooters Illegal In UK
In the UK, riding privately owned e-scooters on public land, including sidewalks, bike lanes, and roads is illegal. In a court hearing last Wednesday, the boy, who was not identified, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving a vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a license.
He also pleaded guilty to causing death by driving a vehicle while uninsured. The boy was supported by his father in court and only spoke to confirm details and enter his plea, the Times reported.
Boy Released on Bail, With a Proviso
"This case will clearly require a pre-sentence report in respect of the defendant's age. I will also need sufficient time because clearly there will be victim personal statements which will need to be read, should the authors of those victim personal statements wish to read them out in court," said district judge Leo Pyle.
Judge Pyle granted the teenager bail until his next court appearance on March 8, with conditions. "By placing you on bail, it is vital that you keep out of trouble with the police and do not be tempted to use any of these machines," he said.
E-Scooter Injuries, Fatalities Rising in UK and US
The UK's latest data shows that 67 pedestrians were seriously injured by e-scooters in 2021, and 10 riders were killed in 12 months. About one million privately owned scooters have been sold, while dozens of towns have been running government-backed trials of public e-scooters. In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported last October that injuries on micromobility devices (e-scooters, hoverboards, and e-bikes) rose 127 percent from 2017 to 2021, to 77,200.
A study by the National Transportation Safety Board released last December found that 119 people died on e-scooters or e-bikes between 2017 and 2021. Other studies have found that injuries and hospitalizations among children because of e-scooter accidents have risen dramatically.
Lack of Oversight A Problem
In the US, e-scooters and e-bikes are legal to use in public, although many jurisdictions ban their use on sidewalks. The NTSB noted that their popularity has increased significantly, and they're widely used across the country with little oversight. "E-scooter and e-bike growth as an industry and a popular form of transportation is clear," the NTSB report said.
"What is less clear is how transportation safety professionals best go about assessing the safety of these devices as a form of transportation and the safety of the riders who use them."
"Enforcement of the 'rules' looks non existent," said one commenter on the Times' report. "Apparent silent approval encourages all comers to scoot about and in this case kill. Her death was 100% preventable." "Didn't a single politician have the wit to see that these machines would prove deadly in inexperienced young people's hands?" wrote another.
"Deadly in any hands, and a distraction to motorists trying to be aware of and cope with everything else going on around them," responded another. "I am very sorry for the death of this lady," said another. "E-scooters are economic, good for the environment, convenient, and here to stay. Let's hope the legislature gets its act together and legalizes road use as a priority. Only that way will pedestrians be protected."