The use of e-scooters is rising exponentially in Germany and, with summer approaching, it is more important than usual to ensure a responsible and safe approach to e-scooter usage.
On 4 May 2022 we had the opportunity to conduct a safety training session as part of a seminar of the German Police Union (Deutsche Polizeigewerkschaft, DPolG) in Düsseldorf.
The theme of the seminar was “New forms of mobility in road traffic” and focused on the police control of micro electric vehicles.
The seminar was conducted by Marco Schäler, Police Chief Superintendent. Marco Schäler has gained extensive experience from daily patrol duties in the city, is a member of several expert committees of the Bundesverband Verkherssicherheitstechnik e.V. (Federal Association for Traffic Safety Technology) and is author of the book “Mofas und Kleinkrafträder bis 25 km/h” (Mopeds and micro electric vehicles up to 25km/h). His main professional focus to date has been on new forms of mobility, criminal traffic law, rules of conduct as well as alcohol and drugs used by road users.
At the seminar we had the opportunity to connect with Mr. Schäler and discuss our insights on the topic of micromobility and road safety.
To gain further knowledge and a clear insight on the police’s perspective on the topic, we asked Mr. Schäler some questions.
Interview with Police Chief Superintendent Marco Schäler
What are the biggest challenges of this new mode of transport from a police perspective and how can e-scooter suppliers help to overcome them?
With the new regulations on micro electric vehicles that came into force 15.6.2019, it was clear that previously unknown challenges in police road safety were to rise. Taking into account previous experience, the following points in particular should be mentioned:
- Lack of knowledge of the rules among the population (esp. behavioural violations and alcohol and drug driving)
- Unauthorised use by underage riders
- Manipulation of the design-related maximum speed
Consequently, it is of great importance that all relevant organisations and authorities contribute to rider education. This should then be supplemented by police traffic monitoring.
E-scooter rental companies can contribute to this through their own education campaigns, focusing on rules of the road and irresponsible behaviour. In particular, I recommend they do this through customer newsletters, pre-ride instructions in the app, subsidised rider safety training, reward programmes, etc. They could also use technical precautions such as spatial or time limitations for beginners, billing according to the distance travelled and not to the time taken, adaptation of equipment such as indicators, helmets or larger tyres to support more stable riding behaviour.
In your opinion, is the use of e-scooters different from that of other small electric vehicles in terms of regulatory offences?
E-scooter riders tend to commit the following violations:
- Start-up without type approval / motor vehicle liability
- Putting into operation of manipulated electric treadlers
- Violation of behavioural regulations such as twin riding, or riding on pavements, as well not using hand signals
- Failure to comply with regulations on the consumption of alcohol and drugs
However, these are not significantly different from users of other micro electric vehicles such as Segways , unicycles, hoverboards or e-skateboards). In fact, there is a clear distinction between offences caused by riders of shared e-scooters and private ones. With shared e-scooters, most of the issues revolve around twin riding, riding on pavements or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. With privately owned vehicles, there are the issues of the use of unauthorised hoverboards, e-skateboards and unicycles, as well as violations of the compulsory insurance law.
How can police unions and e-scooter providers best collaborate to achieve proper e-scooter use?
In my opinion, this can be achieved in particular through the following ways:
- Regular dialogue at, for example, industry conferences, trade fairs, webinars and/or video conferences. For example, the German Police Union is represented at numerous trade fairs (European Police Congress, GPEC, Intertraffic etc.) and national as well as international specialist symposia (Federal Congress of Municipal Traffic Safety, Optimised Municipal Traffic Safety Worketc.).
- Joint events (internal and external)
- Ensuring that rental companies are always available to respond to police investigation requests, especially with regards to accessing data, and to report relevant facts eg the removal of vehicles that are obstructing or endangering traffic
We sincerely thank Mr. Schäler for the time taken to answer our questions and share his expertise. We are also very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate at the seminar, since safety remains our number one priority at Voi.
It was encouraging to note that Mr. Schäler was “very satisfied that companies like Voi show such a high level of commitment to cooperating and learning from the police.“