E-scooter ACC claims fall off

Mechanic Vlatko Jovanovski repairs Lime scooters in storage at Lime's warehouse in Kingsland, Auckland, this week. Photo: NZME
Mechanic Vlatko Jovanovski repairs Lime scooters in storage at Lime's warehouse in Kingsland, Auckland, this week. Photo: NZME
The removal of Lime scooters appears to have worked - with injuries dropping significantly since the company took its scooters from Auckland and Dunedin last week.

More than 1300 people have been injured using e-scooters since their introduction to New Zealand in October - totalling $643,337 in Accident Compensation Corporation claims, latest figures reveal.

A breakdown of the figures shows a dramatic decrease in injuries for last week when compared to previous weeks.

While the figures are not broken down by day, it appears Friday's ban put a halt to further mishaps - 41 people lodged ACC claims last week for e-scooter-related injuries, compared to 95 and 111 in the first two weeks of February.

The figure has not been as low as 41 since Lime scooters were introduced in October, when 33 injury claims were made for the week beginning October 14.

The most injury-prone week since Limes hit the streets was that beginning February 3, when 111 people lodged claims.

However, a spokesman for ACC said the figures did not always reflect when the incident occurred, but rather when the claim was lodged.

On Friday, Lime had its licences temporarily revoked by Auckland and then voluntarily withdrew the scooters from Dunedin amid growing safety concerns following incidents in which the front wheels on the e-scooters unexpectedly locked.

Auckland Council said at the time it had been advised by Lime that it had identified 155 reported irregular braking incidents which may have been caused by the unexpected locking issue - 92 of which were in Auckland, and of those 30 resulted in injury.

This appears to be borne out in the figures, which show Auckland users accounted for more than half (716) of the ACC claims, followed by Christchurch with 383 claims.

The majority of claims (1210) related to loss of balance/personal control, followed by collisions or being knocked over (30).

Soft tissue injuries were the most common, with 657 claims, followed by cuts at 428, and fractures or dislocations with 218 claims.

In comparison, there were 1768 bicycle injury claims in the first two weeks of February, and 148 motorcycle injuries in the same period, totalling almost $46,000 and counting.

More than $8million in ACC claims has been paid out in bicycle injuries since mid-October, while motorbike injuries topped $2.2 million in the same period.

Dunedin Hospital had also noted a reduction in the number of people arriving at the emergency department with e-scooter-related injuries. However, this seemed to follow a natural decline.

Dr John Chambers, clinical leader at Dunedin Hospital's emergency department, said they had treated e-scooter patients with ''painful and serious injuries'' in the past few weeks.

''We have not collated actual numbers, but anecdotally, initially we saw around five to seven presentations per day directly attributable to Lime scooters,'' he said.

''This number had reduced in recent weeks to more like one and two per day, prior to the removal of the scooters over the weekend.''

He urged riders to ''be sensible, stay safe and wear a helmet'' should the e-scooters be allowed back on the streets.

''Helmets are now compulsory in Brisbane for good reason,'' he said.

''It is also important that scooter users realise that pedestrians may not hear them coming up behind them at some speed.''

Both Auckland and Counties Manukau DHB said they did not specifically record data on Lime scooter injuries.

More than 185,000 riders have taken nearly one million trips on Lime scooters in Auckland alone since its launch in October.

On Friday, the Auckland council took steps to revoke Lime's operating licence, saying ''safety is not negotiable''.

Earlier this month, Auckland man Liam Thompson (27) broke his jaw and suffered cuts and grazes after his Lime scooter locked up mid-ride, throwing him over the handlebars.

Last week Mohsen Ansari was speeding down Parnell Rise on a Lime scooter when the front wheel locked up and sent him sprawling forwards, rupturing the meniscus in his knee.

Meanwhile, it is still unclear when a decision on Lime's future in Auckland will be made.

The council has yet to receive the information it requested from the company, following which it will take a further 24 hours to make a decision.

It came as Lime bosses apologised to Kiwi users, and said it was working hard to earn their trust.

Mitchell Price, Lime's director of government affairs and strategy, assured riders the scooters were safe, and a series of firmware fixes had already been installed on all its New Zealand-based e-scooters to rectify the braking issue. 

-By Patrice Dougan

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