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Sep 29, 2023

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There has been an "exponential" increase in e-scooter injuries in Western

There has been an "exponential" increase in e-scooter injuries in Western Australia, as figures reveal a significant number of people ride while drunk, on drugs or without a helmet.

In 2021, there were 39 e-scooter patients admitted to Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) for more than 24 hours, while the number jumped to 62 in 2022.

In just the first two months of this year, 19 patients were admitted.

Head of Trauma Services at RPH Dieter Weber warned the increasing popularity of e-scooters in WA correlated with a sharp rise in serious crashes.

"We've seen a near-exponential rise in e-scooter-related injuries," Dr Weber said.

"As trauma surgeons, we're very keen for everyone to be aware that these are powerful vehicles and have the potential to cause serious injury.

"We've seen a combination of serious and severe injuries to patients; we've seen significant head injuries, injuries to internal organs, broken bones affecting patients, both immediately, of course, and long term.

"These injuries are having a significant impact in terms of patients' ongoing function and rehabilitation, not just on them, but also their loved ones and families."

The figures were released following two e-scooter crashes in the state in as many days.

A 25-year-old man was flown to Perth with head injuries after his e-scooter collided with a car at a roundabout in Geraldton on Friday night.

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old boy remains in a critical condition after his e-scooter was involved in a crash on a crosswalk in the Perth suburb of Kingsley on Thursday night.

Kyle Raubenheimer, a resident medical officer in the Intensive Care Unit, has researched the factors associated with e-scooter crashes.

He found most patients were not wearing a helmet, and a significant number were affected by drugs or alcohol.

"Our research showed that about 45 per cent of patients were wearing helmets, and our research showed that you're four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury if you're not wearing a helmet.

"We found over a third of patients were under the influence of drugs or alcohol."

Dr Raubenheimer said there had been a 300 per cent increase in e-scooter injuries since 2017.

"Some of the injuries the patients sustained are head injuries, internal organ damage and broken bones," he said.

The majority of patients were male, with 33 admitted in 2021 compared to six females and 49 compared to 13 females in 2022.

As e-scooters began growing in popularity, the WA government introduced "eRideables" legislation in 2021 for devices such as e-scooters and e-skateboards, which required riders to be over the age of 16, wear a helmet and be subject to the same drink and drug driving laws as motor vehicle drivers.

The legislation also included a 25km/h speed limit on shared paths and local roads and a 10km/h limit for footpaths and pedestrian crossings.

The safety warning came as the City of Perth expanded its e-scooter share scheme to Kings Park.

Visitors will be able to hire and ride e-scooters within the park and geo-fenced locations between the park and the city.

People using the e-scooters can access all cycling paths and some pedestrian paths but will be prohibited from riding within geo-fenced "no-go zones", including the Western Australian Botanic Garden, bushland areas and busier parkland areas.

"If you're on one of the scooters, and you try and go into a no-go zone, it'll tell you, and it will actually stop operating," Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority executive director Alan Barrett said.

"It really means that for those people that might be a little bit anxious about sharing a path with scooters, we can manage that ourselves and that's something that's a little bit harder to do with privately owned scooters.

"The safety of all our visitors is an absolute priority for us, and governing the scooters at just 10km/h now on the path network, we think, is one way to manage those risks."

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