“It’s a toy”: this is what young people think about the scooter according to the greatest research ever carried out in Italy on this topic. The result of months of work by the “Center of Excellence on road safety” (operational unit born from a memorandum of understanding between the State Police, the Sapienza University of Rome, the Ania Foundation and the ASL RM1) and the involvement of six thousand students of secondary schools (14-19 years) throughout Italy, the research reveals a tragic scenario in terms of knowledge of the rules and the perception of the risk of having an accident. Those who use it experience a sort of “disengagement” from respect for the rules accentuated by the playful aspect of the vehicle.
And let’s talk about a very popular vehicle: almost one out of ten boys in fact declares that he frequently drives an electric scooter. Excluding the bicycle, this is the largest percentage of young people driving a vehicle. The electric scooter is therefore a mode of transport rapidly spreading among young people, particularly in areas of greater urban intensity. And if we cross this data with that of sharing mobility operators (according to which scooters travel many more kilometers than electric bikes), then the picture is complete.
A dangerous picture, very dangerous, because in terms of knowledge of the current regulations on the use of the scooter (age limits, permitted speed, etc.), the children show that they have little knowledge, in some cases nonexistent; For example, only 26% know the speed allowed in pedestrian areas, and as many as 42% believe that the minimum age is 10 years (real limit 14 years). And what’s worse, kids perceive the risk of having an accident lower than driving another vehicle such as a car or a moped.
“The results of our research – explains Anna Maria Giannini, director of the psychology department at La Sapienza University – highlight an altered perception of risks in the sense of a strong underestimation. One is led to consider the scooter a game, not to consider the rules of the road as binding and not to take into account the possible consequences of incorrect use. These distortions create a real paradox: the belief that moving around on a scooter makes you immune and allows you to have fun without any worries “. Therefore? “The natural tendency – concludes Giannini – of adolescent groups to actively seek risks, to be attracted to the game, to consider themselves invincible, is strongly strengthened by the use of a means that recalls the theme of playfulness (typical of previous ages) and that unfortunately it is considered “not a real device” which must provide for compliance with the rules “.
According to the research, in fact, as regards the attitudes evoked by the medium, the aspect of greatest attraction is represented by fun. In fact, the young people interviewed consider the scooter fun and enjoyable, even more dangerous and advantageous. The risk is that the “playful” experience that the vehicle evokes can help to disengage the driver from respecting the rules. There is nothing negative in perceiving driving the vehicle as fun, but if this is the predominant experience with respect to safety, efficiency of the vehicle, etc., it risks representing an inducer of risk behaviors.
Hence the need, according to the researchers, not to demonize a vehicle capable of exerting such a strong attraction among young people, but to operate with necessary and urgent regulatory policies in the use of the medium. As? Above all with the adoption of more effective tools that make drivers responsible for the correct behavior to keep while driving and, in parallel, of a renewed regulatory framework that strengthens the rules of prudence to protect the weakest users. And so it is the same “Center of Excellence on road safety” that makes four proposals to make driving electric scooters safer:
• an alpha / numeric code such as “plate”, which makes the scooter recognizable and the owner identifiable;
• possession of a driving license;
• the possibility of contesting any infringements even after a delay and through the use of remote detection devices;
• the obligatory nature of the helmet regardless of age.