Right now, there’s a transportation revolution happening—everything’s moving toward electric! That means cars are changing but it also means that we’re seeing a variety of new types of vehicles on our roads, including scooters, mopeds, and electric bikes. And the proliferation of these new vehicles creates new challenges around traffic safety.
Micro-Mobility: E-scooters, Mopeds, and Electric Bikes
You’ve seen them speeding along sidewalks, in neighborhoods and parks, and sometimes even on main roads—a new generation of electric vehicles used for personal transportation. They’re environmentally friendly, inexpensive, fast, and seem to be available for public use in many metropolitan areas.
Electric bikes have a top speed of about 28 mph and electric mopeds easily reach 40 mph. This means that many riders take to the roads because they can keep up with the flow of traffic. However, riding on the street is not always safe or even legal (regulations vary locally and by state). Many parks also ban these vehicles from bike trails so folks using them are caught in a gray area where they’re not sure where they can or should ride.
The other thing that’s new about these vehicles is that they’re silent so they’re a greater threat to pedestrians and fellow drivers who are conditioned to hearing on-coming vehicles.
Traffic Accidents and Even Fatalities
A new study by UCLA estimates there are 115 injuries per one million scooter rides, a rate that exceeds that of motorcycles. Another study shows that injuries from e-scooters, e-bikes, and hoverboards jumped 70% in the last four years. And some of the accidents are fatal; on August 7, 2022, a woman riding a scooter on a highway in New York was tragically killed after crashing into a divider.
So, while local governments work to figure out how these new types of vehicles should be regulated, let’s look at traffic safety best practices.
Traffic Safety: Safe Driving Strategies
These are safe driving strategies from Nationwide Insurance covered in our last blog post. Let’s see how they apply in an environment that includes these new types of vehicles.
Focus on Driving: Ignoring distractions while driving and maintaining focus on the road is key to driving safely. To keep focused while driving, you should follow these steps:
- Keep 100% of your attention on driving—no multitasking.
- Don’t use your phone or any other electronic devices while driving.
- Slow down. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.
Keeping a sharp focus on driving will help you see and respond to a moped speeding along beside you just as it does for another car. Remember, though, that the moped, scooter or e-bike may be silent.
Practice Defensive Driving: Defensive driving is when motorists use accident-preventing techniques with a focus on driving safely. To practice defensive driving:
- Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing and expect the unexpected.
- Assume other motorists will do something crazy, and always be prepared to avoid it.
- Keep a two-second cushion between you and the car in front of you. Make that a four-second cushion in poor weather conditions.
One of the risks of mopeds, scooters, and e-bikes is that they may be on the shoulder of the road, and they may also dart between cars during slowdowns. So, these are additional hazards that may require good defensive driving techniques.
Make a safe driving plan
- Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks, phone calls, or other business.
- Adjust your seat, mirrors, and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
- Pull over to eat or drink.
- Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion.
- Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.
- Have items needed within easy reach—such as toll fees and garage passes.
- Always wear your seat belt, drive sober, and drug-free.
These tips apply even more when your route may include fast, silent two-wheeled vehicles along with other cars—especially in newly traveled areas.
As electric vehicles, and especially micro-mobility ones, become a larger part of the transportation in our communities, drivers need to adapt to new and increasingly challenging safety conditions. But the good news is that your current safe driving strategies still apply. In fact, they apply more than ever!