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FINLAND: 90% of facial fractures among electric scooters occurred under the influence of alcohol

14.12.2022 - Almost 90% of facial fractures in electric scooter accidents occurred under the influence of alcohol. Compared to bicycle injuries, electric scootering is particularly prone to skull fractures.

A study in facial traumatology compared the factors associated with facial fractures in electric scooter and cyclist accidents at the Töölö accident station between January 2019 and October 2020. A total of 169 patients were included in the study, 124 of whom had a facial fracture related to cycling and 45 of whom had a facial fracture related to electric scooter riding.

Driving under the influence of alcohol was significantly more common in electric scooter riders than in cyclists. 88.9 % of those with facial fractures were under the influence of alcohol. Electric scooter riders were 18 times more likely to be drunk when driving compared to cyclists.

"The proportion of electric scooter drivers under the influence of alcohol in our data was remarkably high compared to other international studies dealing with electric scooter injuries. Based on our results, driving an electric scooter under the influence of alcohol seems to expose you to serious facial injuries in particular," says PhD researcher Olli-Jussi Murros.

Significantly more skull fractures among electric scooter riders

In addition to alcohol consumption, young age and driving without a helmet are characteristic features of electric scooter accidents. At the time of the accident, only one of the drivers in the study was wearing a helmet, compared to around a third of cyclists.

"Skull fractures in particular are specifically associated with scooter injuries when other circumstances of the incident are taken into account. Drunk electric scooter riders are typically injured in a collision with a stationary object. The accident situation involves hitting a paving stone and falling face-first to the ground. Under these circumstances, the combination of alcohol and not wearing a helmet creates a dangerous combination for head injuries," says Murros.

Traffic safety should be promoted

In the report published by HUS, a key finding is that night-time electric scooter injuries have decreased significantly. In September 2021, the city of Helsinki restricted the use of electric scooters by reducing the speed and preventing the rental of electric scooters on weekend nights.

"New modes of transport are here to stay, but the associated driving while intoxicated, without helmets and against traffic rules has been overlooked. It is excellent that we are moving from talking about injuries to how accidents can be prevented. Hopefully, road safety can be promoted through cooperation between the city and rental companies. However, the responsibility for safe mobility also lies with the users themselves," says Johanna Snäll, assistant professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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