Auckland doctors call for more regulation for e-scooters

The study was done by several of the hospital's surgeons.
The study was done by several of the hospital's surgeons. Photo credit: Getty

Surgeons are calling for greater regulation on the use of e-scooters, saying accidents involving the vehicles are putting increased pressure on Auckland's health resources. 

In the first 19 weeks, e-scooters were allowed on Auckland streets, 180 patients were treated at Auckland Hospital's emergency department with injuries related to their use, according to a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The study was carried out by doctors at Auckland Hospital. 

One in five of those patients required surgery under general anaesthetic, and 17.2 percent of them had suffered head injuries, including severe brain injuries, the study found.

Other injuries included contusions, abrasions and lacerations (65.6 percent) and fractured bones (41.7 percent).

"While the majority of injuries were minor trauma, these cases have placed additional demand on health system resources across Auckland," the study's authors wrote.

"A significant group of patients had serious injuries including some severe brain injuries."

The data also showed that only 1.7 percent of patients were wearing a helmet at the time of their injury, while alcohol was involved in 23 percent of cases.

"This mode of transport would benefit from greater regulation, including a zero blood-alcohol limit, night-time curfews, reduced speed limits and consideration of mandatory helmet use," the study concluded.

Despite controversy surrounding the vehicles, Auckland Council announced last month it would continue licensing e-scooters.

At the time, the council acknowledged there were safety concerns over the vehicles but said it had "little influence" on rules users needed to obey. Regulation "ultimately sits with central Government", said the council's director of regulatory services Craig Hobbs.

In September, a 23-year-old man died after falling off a Lime scooter in Auckland, while in June another person died after suffering a medical event while using an e-scooter.