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More scooters, more accidents

4 March, 2012
More scooters, more accidents

The increasing popularity of scooters, the non-motorised kind, has seen a rise in the number of injuries to children who are using them for recreation, transport and exercise.

Waikato University social science student Trish Wolfaardt studied ACC statistics for the last five years, and has found a “huge spike” in the number of reported scooter injuries in 2011 – a five-fold increase. There were 46 claims in 2008, and 309 claims recorded for the year ending 2012 with a cost to ACC of approximately $70 000 for that year. “While most of the injuries were moderate – dislocations, fractures, lacerations and soft-tissue injuries – there has also been an increase in the number of severe injuries,” says Wolfaardt.

The research was commissioned and supported by the Child Injury Prevention Foundation of NZ and Wolfaardt says the growing number of injuries follows overseas trends, including the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. “Overseas there have been scooter fatalities – and we don’t want any here.

“More and more children are using scooters to get to school, riding them without helmets, knee and elbow pads, and often with bare feet. I know people will accuse me of being from the fun police, but I think we should be looking at ways to minimise the dangers.”

Boys tend to be injured more frequently than girls and the median age for injury is nine. Most injuries occur at home, with public roads the next most likely location.

As well as examining existing legislation for cycles and scooters – and non-motorised scooters are listed under Land Transport road regulations – Wolfaardt also went out into the Tauranga community and watched children on scooters at three primary schools, two intermediates and at city skateparks.

“Children routinely use basic scooters for activities unsuited to their design and on terrain that poses further risks,” says Wolfaardt. “Children scootering to school are not subject to the same regulations as those cycling to school and there appears to be a general lack of awareness of the risks associated with scootering.”

To that end, Wolfaardt is proposing several recommendations as a result of her research. These include the wearing of helmets, the introduction of school policies for scootering to and from school that require helmets and footwear to be worn, a minimum age when children can scooter to school, and extended road safety information. “I also recommend that there’s compulsory distribution of point-of-sale information packs on the risks of scooters and the protective equipment options available and want funding of current community resources and training initiatives to continue to include more safety awareness.”


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