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Study: Half of drivers in Helsinki e-scooter accidents were drunk

The financial hit of the city's e-scooter accidents amounted to an estimated 1.7 million euros last year, according to the study.

Kypärää käyttävä sähköpotkulautailija huristeli VOI-laudalla pyörätiellä Helsingin Kauppatorin vieressä 16. elokuuta
Only around 10 percent of people who received hospital treatment for e-scooter related injuries were wearing helmets at the time of their accidents. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

Around half of e-scooter accidents that occurred in the capital area over the past year were linked to the use of alcohol, according to a study from the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS).

Like in many cities around the world and Finland, the use of rentable and personal e-scooters has skyrocketed in the capital area. The battery-powered vehicles offer a handy way to move around urban areas, but their use does carry risks, particularly when operators drive recklessly.

HUS's study on the topic analysed 446 patients who were injured in e-scooter accidents over the past year. The majority (257) of the injuries were minor — including mild concussions and sprains.

Meanwhile 155 of the injuries were moderate, with patients suffering minor bone fractures, and 30 of them were severe, which included injuries such as cerebral haemorrhages and broken bones requiring long-term rehab.

Three of the injuries were classified as very serious and one was deemed extremely serious.

Of those patients who received hospital care, 53 required surgery, while two patients were operated on twice, and one was in surgery a total of four times.

The study found that 60 of the injured patients ended up in a hospital ward while five people were placed in intensive care units.

The majority of all of the accidents took place on summer weekend evenings or nights. The median age of accident victims was 26, and the majority (59%) were male.

Around one-half of all of the accident victims were intoxicated and just over 10 percent were wearing a helmet as they rode the scooters.

Safety rules "justified"

Due to safety concerns, often related to intoxicated users, the scooters' top speeds were reduced across the board in Helsinki last year. The vehicles were also made unavailable on weekend nights.

Earlier this year, in cooperation with e-scooter rental firms, the city set up new guidelines for use of the devices — including on how to park them properly.

Henri Vasara, a resident physician at HUS' emergency department, said that the injury statistics justified the scooter safety regulations.

"However, the progression of accidents must continue to be closely monitored, and a discussion about the rules must continue," Vasara said in a statement.

HUS' scooter-related injuries also came at a financial cost to taxpayers, according to the hospital district.

Overall, e-scooter crashes in Helsinki cost around 1.7 million euros in 2021 alone. Those costs included hospital and follow-up visits, surgeries and ward fees. They also included an estimated 845,000 euros in lost working time.

The costs for private health care services were not included in the study.

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