Over 90 percent of e-scooter injuries in Norway occured due to intoxication - study

A woman riding an e-scooter
The study was designed to compare e-scooter accidents with bicycle injuries in Oslo. Photo credit: Getty Images

E-scooters are fun to ride and are more environmentally friendly than an Uber or taxi during a night out - but when alcohol is thrown into the mix, they're also much more dangerous.

A peer-reviewed study in Norway has found that an astonishing 91 percent of injuries sustained while driving them later in the day happened because the rider was intoxicated.

The study was designed to compare e-scooter accidents with bicycle injuries and used data from over 4000 crashes, 1000 of which were on scooters.

All patients were seen at Oslo University Hospital between January 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, according to the authors.

The percentage of injured who had boozed up was significantly larger than the one in five riders that were admitted to Auckland City Hospital with injuries who were found to have been drinking.

However, those findings were in a much smaller study. It covered a period from 2018 to 2019 before updated conditions were brought in that prevent the use of scooters from 11pm to 5am at night and from 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays in certain areas of Auckland.

During the Norwegian study, e-scooter and bicycle injuries were evaluated for associations with sex, age, time of injury, helmet use, intoxication, body region, and injury severity, according to the abstract.

The researchers concluded that those who were injured on e-scooters were "more likely to be younger than cyclists, more likely to be injured at night, more likely to have been drinking and far less likely to be wearing a helmet than cyclists".

No differences between sexes was observed from bicycle to e-scooter injuries, but the latter was much more likely to occur during the weekends and on evenings, while the former were more likely to occur during weekdays.

Just two percent of e-scooter riders wore helmets as opposed to over 60 percent of bike riders.

"The rate of intoxication in nighttime injured e-scooter riders was high," the conclusion continued.

That was despite a reliance on people self-reporting their intoxication, "although response rates indicate a large degree of honesty (answers were anonymous and not eligible for legal prosecution)," the authors noted.

"The phrasing in the registration form used to collect data on intoxication does not discriminate between alcohol and other drugs. Therefore, although alcohol was largely the reported substance patients admitted being under the influence of, this study does not differentiate between alcohol and other drugs."

The authors suggested measures were necessary to prevent those injuries, some of which could resemble those implemented in Aotearoa.

"Given these findings, a preventive benefit may be gained by introducing measures such as improving infrastructure, initiating awareness campaigns targeting teens, regulating e-scooter numbers and availability at night, implementing helmet regulations, and enforcing stricter alcohol policies."