E-scooter riders more likely to hurt themselves while drunk than cyclists, NZ study finds

E-scooter users are more likely to end up in hospital after-hours, with significantly higher rates of alcohol in their systems compared with cyclists, a study has found.

A New Zealand Medical Journal paper authored by Matthew James McGuinness, Yvonne Tiong and Savitha Bhagvan, compared the injuries from e-scooter users with cyclists between 2018 and 2019, at Auckland City Hospital.

Trauma and general surgeon Dr Savitha Bhagvan said e-scooter users were more likely to experience isolated falls, whereas cyclists were typically in collisions.

But she said this was noteworthy because the e-scooter injuries were just as severe, if not worse, than cyclists who had been in a collision.

The number of e-scooter injuries were much higher after 5pm compared with cyclists, and the age-group tended to be younger on average.

Bhagvan said protective gear was seldom worn in e-scooter riders.

"This study was done in the very first year when e-scooters were introduced. So there was definitely a novelty factor."

There were few regulations and rules pertaining to e-scooter use at that time, and there were no requirements to wear helmets or rules against drink-driving, she said.

"It was easily accessible, it was cheap, it was fashionable and that's why we saw so many injuries."

She wants to see a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol, mandatory protective gear and stronger road rules for e-scooter riders to minimise accidents and injuries.

"A lot more education is needed, especially with younger people using them," Bhagvan said.

"This study demonstrates a concerningly high e-scooter related hospitalisation rate and suggests e-scooters are currently not as safe as cycling."