Young people ride on an electric scooter along the waterfront Marina Bay in Singapore. Quay Marina Bay. (Image by DoublePhoto Studio / Shutterstock.com)

Increasing number of PMD users being injured as well, says Tan Tock Seng Hospital

While we’ve noticed an increase in personal mobility device (PMD) related accidents recently with unsuspecting pedestrians being injured, some fatally, from collisions, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) said on Monday that PMD users themselves are not getting away unscathed.

The number of PMD riders being injured was also on the rise, said the hospital, noting that there was an increase of 68% in PMD-related accidents at the hospital in the last two years and nine months.

The hospital said at a briefing that 213 PMD riders were treated between January 2017 and September 2019 for PMD accidents, along with six patients who were pedestrians involved in similar incidents. Of the 213 cases, 6 patients died.

The hospital noted that 53% of them were aged 20 to 39, 29% were between 40 and 59, while 9% were above 60. More than 75% of the PMD riders treated were male.

It was also highlighted that numbers are increasing. The first nine months of 2019 saw 79 PMD riders admitted to TTSH compared to 87 cases for the whole of 2018. In 2017, TTSH had 47 patients for PMD related cases.

According to the data from TTSH, the most common injuries were to the head and neck followed by external lacerations and abrasions. There were also chest injuries which made up 9% of cases as well as injuries to the extremities such as sprains, fractures and amputations which made by 8%.

Using the Injury Severity Score to measure the severity of each patient’s injuries, it was found that 46 patients had moderate to severe injuries. 26 of them had self-skidded, nine were in collisions with other vehicles, five crashed into stationary objects, and three clashed with other PMDs. Of those 46 cases, only seven were wearing helmets.

The hospital said that about 167 patients suffered minor injuries, adding that it has no available information on the cause of injury in most of those cases.

Dr Teo Li Tserng, director of the trauma services unit at TTSH said: “A lot of patients have head injuries, the unfortunate thing about (such) injuries is that recovery time can vary. If you have a severe head injury, you might end up in a vegetative state for the rest of your life.”

Dr Teo called for more awareness on the importance of safety gear for PMD riders, adding that the recent spike in PMD-related accidents makes it a timely moment to share the information.

Possible ban on PMDs?

With the increase in PMD-related accidents – especially the most recent death of 65-year-old cyclist Mdm Ong Bee Eng who died following a crash with a PMD rider – there has been plenty of talk around the dangers that PMDs pose to others on the street with the public calling for stricter regulation and safety measures.

Earlier this month, Senior Minister for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament on 7 October that a ban on PMDs would be considered if the behaviour of PMD users did not improve.

“Meanwhile, we have to make a decision on where to allow PMDs to be used, other than on dedicated paths for PMDs and bicycles – on footpaths, or on roads, or not at all until the town is ready,” he explained, emphasising that these are “difficult choices” which requires re-examination.

He continued, “In the meantime, we strongly urge PMD users to be extra responsible and mindful of others. If their behaviour does not improve, we may have no choice but to ban their usage completely from Singapore. This would be a loss.”

In an interview with CNA938 a few days later, Dr Janil said, “We don’t particularly think a ban is what we need to do right now, but it’s part of our consideration and it’s something that we have as a tool if it becomes necessary.”