E-scooters: Sister of six-year-old boy who had skull fractured by teenage rider calls for under-21 ban

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The sister of a six-year-old boy who suffered a fractured skull after being hit by an e-scooter rider has called for a ban on the devices for under-21s.

It comes as latest figures show more than 70 people have been injured during the government’s e-scooter trials – including 11 people who were seriously hurt.

Brooklyn Smith said her little brother Jamie suffers anxiety attacks at the sight of e-scooters after he was knocked unconscious by a teenager riding one of the vehicles in Leicester.

The 17-year-old boy, who failed to stop after the collision, pleaded guilty to several offences over the incident including causing a serious injury by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced to a 12-month youth referral order and has been banned from the road for two years, Leicestershire Police said.

Privately-owned e-scooters are illegal to ride on public roads and pavements. Only rental e-scooters can be ridden on roads in areas taking part in the government’s official trials.

Ms Smith, 21, told Sky News that when her family walk past an e-scooter rider now they face Jamie in the opposite direction or change their route « because he has a complete anxiety attack ».

She said she continues to see e-scooter riders « flying around on them like there’s no tomorrow » near the family’s home, despite trials of the devices not running in Leicester.

Ms Smith told Sky News: « I don’t think they should be able to reach the speeds that they reach.

« It’s going to be stupid for us to sit here and say: ‘We want them banned. We never want them to be made again.’ That’s not realistic.

« They need to make sure that nothing like this is going to happen again. »

Jamie had to be airlifted to hospital after being struck by the e-scooter rider outside his home in August.

Ms Smith said her brother still suffers memory loss and it took him six weeks to be able to look in a mirror after the incident « because his own reflection genuinely frightened him ».

She has now called for people to be « at least over 21 » before they can buy or rent e-scooters.

« They’re too easily accessible, » she added.

« At the end of the day, the speed they can reach, you’re asking for disaster. »

The government is trialling rental e-scooters in more than 40 towns and cities as it considers whether to legalise them on UK roads.

The Department for Transport (DfT) told Sky News that 11 incidents involving « serious » injuries have been recorded since the trials were launched last year, up to 25 March this year.

It said « serious injuries » meant those which required medical treatment such as fractures, concussion and cuts, but none required « in-patient » treatment.

A further 62 incidents involving « slight » injuries were recorded, such as sprains, bruises or cuts, that did not require medical treatment, the DfT added.

It said accident rates « appear to be low » as more than two million trips have been taken on rental e-scooters during the trials.

But the charity Guide Dogs said it believed the actual number of people injured by e-scooters is « much higher » as some incidents go unreported and the government’s figures do include those which are privately-owned.

Chris Theobald, the charity’s senior campaigns manager, said: « In the rush to roll out e-scooters in our towns and cities, people with sight loss are being forgotten.

« E-scooters operate quietly which makes them extremely difficult to detect if you can’t see very well.

« We need to make e-scooters safer, tackle dangerous and anti-social behaviour by e-scooter drivers and stop unregulated sales of high-speed e-scooters. »

A DfT spokesman told Sky News that « while feedback from the trials has been generally positive about their impact, we know there have been a small number of instances where e-scooters have been misused ».

Six students were banned from the road in March for drink-driving while riding rental e-scooters in Newcastle – including one who was almost four times over the limit.

However the DfT was unable to provide the total number of people convicted of riding e-scooters while over the alcohol limit during the trials.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also refused to reveal how many people have been prosecuted for riding e-scooters while over the drink-driving limit in England and Wales.

Following a freedom of information request by Sky News, the CPS said a « manual review of cases » involving road traffic offences would be needed to determine if e-scooters were involved, which would exceed the cost limit set out by the FOI Act.

E-scooter trials are expected to launch in London in the coming weeks, with an announcement on the start date expected after the city’s mayoral election on 6 May.

People renting e-scooters from operators taking part in the trials need to have a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence, and they have been urged to wear a helmet.

Only rental e-scooters are allowed on roads but not pavements, and they are limited to 15.5mph.

Privately-owned e-scooters cannot be used on the UK’s roads – one of the last countries in Europe where this is the case – due to their classification as a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Motor vehicles are required to have number plates, with users needing to have a driver’s licence, insurance and wear a helmet.

In October, MPs recommended that e-scooters should be legalised in the UK within 18 months to help make cities greener.

YouTube star Emily Hartridge became the first e-scooter rider to be killed in the UK in July 2019.

Sky News

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