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E-scooter nerves can seriously affect you! Diagnosing and treating post-e-scooter accident anxiety - Professor Hugh Koch

28/10/22. Electric scooters are now a common sight on UK public roads, private roads and parks, more so now that they are legal to ride in the UK, albeit with strict limitations. It is legal to ride e-scooters on roads and cycle lanes but not on pavements, although this is frequently seen.

A combination of high speeds, limited braking capacity and very silent running make potential accidents for riders and pedestrians a frightening prospect, adding also to the risk of car-related accidents.

The number of people injured in e-scooter collisions has significantly increased (UK Government report). In 2021, there was 1280 collisions involving e-scooters resulting in 1359 casualties and nine deaths, 40% of these injuries occurred in London.

Many types of physical injuries can result from e-scooter accidents both for the rider or a pedestrian. In addition, e-scooter incidents can result in significant stress, anxiety, both generalised and specifically phobic, and other psychological effects. Individuals can claim compensation for such injuries if shown to be attributable to the index event. This can include therapy or rehabilitation for the resulting psychological problems.

This article outlines some of the diagnostic issues relevant to a valid and reliable claim for travel-related psychological damage caused by an e-scooter incident, and requiring careful psychological assessment.

Clarifying e-scooter fear

The most significant feature of e-scooter related fear includes: -

1. Partial or total avoidance of riding an e-scooter

2. Pedestrian anxiety and avoidance of pavements or crossing roads where e-scooters might exist

3. The perception that e-scooter riders are ‘idiots’ making every journey in a car, on a bike or scooter or as a pedestrian, partially irrationally, like ‘dicing with death’.

Providing help for nervous riders and pedestrians

The majority of those following an e-scooter accident develop travel anxiety will, with practice or re-exposure to travel (as an e-scooter rider or pedestrian), will find their nervousness gradually decrease with or without treatment. However, many will benefit from:

a) Positive prognostic information or ‘it will get better’

b) Encouragement to take ‘small steps’ towards more frequent and confident travelling in any manner.

A small number of individuals who have a high level of symptoms amounts to a clinically significant ‘psychological injury’ (such as PTSD, phobias) require specialist treatment such as cognitive behavioural psychology based on cognitive re-labelling, behavioural change and support from a therapist.

E-scooter anxiety and avoidance should not be seen as a sign of indeterminate distress. Confidence and careful psychological assessment with decisions on the appropriateness of therapy will help claimants minimise their difficulties whether they be e-scooter riders, pedestrians or other vehicle travellers.

References

Koch HCH (2016) Legal Mind: Contemporary Issues in Psychological Injury and Law. Expert Witness Publications. Manchester.

Koch HCH (2018) From Therapist’s Chair to Courtroom: Understanding Tort law Psychology. Expert Witness Publications. Manchester

Image ©iStockphoto.com/OLENA SAKHATSKA

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