Boy, 12, killed riding Voi e-scooter, but who’s really to blame?

Boy, 12, killed riding Voi e-scooter, but who’s really to blame?

It was tragic to read about a 12 year old boy who was killed yesterday morning when the Voi e-scooter he was riding to school was involved in a collision with a bus, in the Bordesley Green area of Birmingham.

There has been a fair bit of hand-wringing over this, with calls for this e-scooter ‘trial’ in Birmingham to be stopped, and blame being pointed in the direction of both Birmingham City Council and the e-scooter operator Voi.

But the simple fact of the matter is that this 12 year old shouldn’t have been riding this thing in the first place, and the parents must have been aware also.

What are the Voi e-scooter rules?

You cannot ride a privately-owned e-scooter on public roads and Voi scooters are the only ones allowed in the West Midlands. There are three trial zones in Birmingham city centre, Coventry city centre and West Bromwich town centre.

Only those aged 18 or over, with a full or provisional UK driving license, can use them. Riders are advised to always wear a helmet, never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol and ensure there is only one person on a scooter at a time.

As well as an extensive safety section, the Voi website asks users to park “with thought” and keep pavements an “accessible space for all”.

“Voi e-scooter rules explained as boy, 12, killed in bus crash tragedy” – Birmingham Mail, 7th Dec 2022

OK, so the first problem here is “what was a 12 year old doing riding one of these then?”

I work in an area of Birmingham where it is commonplace to see these Voi scooters left on the pavement everywhere. And I also see a fair few people riding around on these, so they are quite popular.

While most people I see riding these Voi scooters are adults, it amazes me how many youngsters I see using them as well.

Most of the time, they are being used on the pavements. I’ve never to my knowledge seen any rider wearing a cycle helmet as advised.

I also sadly see a lot of scooters where two people are riding at the same time.

These Voi e-scooters are easy enough to spot, but I am also concerned about the number of people riding around on e-scooters that are clearly NOT Voi models, but are presumably privately bought/owned ones.

They are NOT toys!

How many people use Voi e-scooters?

In October, we reported more than 75,000 e-scooter rides during peak weekday commuter hours in September. According to the latest figures published by Voi nearly 17,000 rides took place in the morning between 7 to 9 am. There were around 58,000 rides between 4 to 7 pm in the evening.

Has anyone else died using an e-scooter?

E-scooter collisions have increased by 193 per cent since 2020, new figures from the Department of Transport have revealed. Ten people were killed in collisions involving e-scooters compared to one in 2020. In total, there were 1,352 collisions involving e-scooters compared to 460 in 2020.

Shakur Pinnock, aged 20, was critically injured after he and his girlfriend, Chante Hoosang, were involved in the crash with a Volkswagen Golf in Wolverhampton on June 12. The aspiring rapper died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham from severe head trauma six days later.

A Department for Transport fact sheet read: “Our best estimate, after adjusting for changes in reporting by police, is that there were 421 seriously injured and 1,003 slightly injured [in e-scooter crashes] in 2021. This compares to 129 and 354 respectively in 2020.”

It is probably no surprise that the reported number of collisions has increased so dramatically since 2020, as that was when these menaces were introduced onto our streets.

One can also assume in the case of Shakur Pinnock and Chante Hoosang that they were both riding on the same scooter when they were hit by a car.

I’ve never used one of these things before, and I’m not really interested to be honest. It costs £1 to ‘unlock’ a scooter, and then you get charged 20p per minute for the time to use one for your ‘ride’.

It sounds like ‘good value’ but in reality the longer you travel on one for, the cost soon mounts up.

In order to use one of these Voi scooters, one requires a smartphone with the Voi app installed, and then presumably you need to create an account, agree to the ‘terms & conditions’ and then link a bank card, in order to pay for your ‘rides’ on the scooter.

I don’t know whether as part of the account creation process one has to provide driving licence details, or whether it is ‘assumed’ that by agreeing to the T&Cs the registered user does actually have one. Or whether it is ‘assumed’ that the ‘registered user’ is over the age of 18 by virtue of having to provide bank card details. As the last time I checked, 12 year olds cannot open a bank account and have a debit card. (However it seems that many children DO have access to a smartphone these days).

So maybe there are some failings with Voi in how easy it is to register an account and use their app to unlock a scooter and ride on it.

There are of course all sorts of questions to be asked. (It doesn’t help though when the Thought Police at the Birmingham Mail ‘deactivate’ perfectly reasonable commentary)

According to the media, “no-one has any money”, so it begs the question as to how so many people are able to afford to whizz around on these e-scooters.

I’ve been wondering for some time as to whether someone has found a way to ‘hack’ these Voi scooters to enable them to be used for ‘free’, which might go some way to explaining why so many youngsters are riding around on them without a care in the world as to how much it’s costing them.

It’s time that parents became more responsible for the actions of their children, especially if they are providing them with smartphones and giving them access to their bank card details to pay for services that they shouldn’t really be using.