On a thoroughly average Thursday in June last year, husband and wife of 52 years Garry and Linda Davis decided to take a trip to the shops.
Little could Garry have imagined that this, a decidedly mundane excursion, would lead to his wife’s death. Nor that her death would be at the hands of a 14-year-old boy.
Or, more accurately, the wheels of a 14-year-old boy. Because Linda — a dedicated grandmother and loving wife — was killed when the teenager knocked her over as he drove on the pavement on his e-scooter. His speed at the time was some 20mph.
There can be few of us who haven’t found themselves in the slipstream of an e-scooter, as their often youthful drivers whizz past us on pavements and in parks across the country at breakneck speed.
This despite the Department for Transport stating it is illegal to use privately owned e-scooters on pavements, footpaths, cycle tracks and cycle lanes, and anyone hiring one for use on a road must be at least 16 and have a provisional driving licence.
Linda — a dedicated grandmother and loving wife — was killed when the teenager knocked her over as he drove on the pavement on his e-scooter. His speed at the time was some 20mph
This despite the Department for Transport stating it is illegal to use privately owned e-scooters on pavements, footpaths, cycle tracks and cycle lanes, and anyone hiring one for use on a road must be at least 16 and have a provisional driving licence
Yet such is their prevalence among teenagers and young people that, as the terrible case of Linda Davis proves, e-scooters are no longer just putting the lives of their young drivers on the line.
The e-scooter epidemic has reached such heights that they are not only killing children — but turning them into unwitting killers, too.
On Sunday, the citizens of Paris voted to ban for-hire e-scooters from their streets because they had become such a menace. First introduced five years ago, the scooters have been involved in hundreds of accidents.
In the mini referendum, City Hall asked Parisians if they were ‘For or against self-service scooters in Paris?’ Of the 103,000 who voted, an overwhelming 89 per cent rejected e-scooters, with just 11 per cent supporting them.
Around 15,000 e-scooters could now vanish from central Paris at the end of August when the city’s contracts with the three operators expire.
For Garry, the moment he emerged from the shop to find his lively, energetic wife lying unconscious outside on the pavement in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire, on June 2 last year still haunts him.
Sadly, the 71-year-old, whom he called Lou, never regained consciousness and died of her head injury six days later in hospital.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons and had been given the scooter just a few days before, escaped a custodial sentence and was handed a 12-month referral order, a six-month parenting order to attend sessions with his mother and father, and a five-year driving ban.
Garry, 73, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, is now calling for a change in the law.
‘I’ve lost the love of my life because someone was riding an e-scooter on a pavement,’ he told the Mail.
‘We’d been together since I was 17 and Lou was nearly 16. I don’t know how I would have survived this if I hadn’t had such a good family and friends.
‘The police should make people register them, but they don’t. You can’t buy a car or a motorbike without registration documents. E-scooters should be no different.
‘I thought Lou would be around for ever. She was fitter than most 20-year-olds. I’ve had heart problems and a couple of mini strokes so I was certain I’d go first.’
Meanwhile, the couple’s daughter, Rebecca Williams, 43, and mother to the couple’s four grandchildren, has said she would never forgive the teenager or his family.
‘Nothing will ever repair the damage that has been done but I desperately hope my mum’s case will make children and parents think about and understand the real-life devastating consequences of illegally riding an e-scooter before they buy or use one,’ says Rebecca.
‘What happened to my mum should never happen again. I don’t want her to be just another statistic. If I can just help make someone else stop and think before they get on an e- scooter then at least my mum’s life won’t have been taken in vain.’
In December 2022, another family had their ‘hearts torn to pieces’ when Mustafa Nadeem (pictured), 12, who was riding an e-scooter, collided with a bus in Birmingham. He was killed instantly
These are far from the only lives ruined by e-scooters.
In March last year, another 14-year-old, Fatima Abukar, was at the controls of a privately owned battery-powered e-scooter in East Ham, East London, when she lost control alongside a mini-bus.
An off-duty medic was among those who tried to save Fatima, but she died from extensive head injuries.
Following the inquest into her death in December, coroner Graeme Irvine issued a serious safety warning about e-scooters.
He listed eight recorded fatalities in London since 2019, and 31 across the whole country. In the 12 months up to June last year alone, there were 1,437 casualties nationwide — an increase of 193 per cent on the previous 12 months.
In December 2022, another family had their ‘hearts torn to pieces’ when Mustafa Nadeem, 12, who was riding an e-scooter, collided with a bus in Birmingham. He was killed instantly.
Today, his father, Nadeem, 41, is haunted by the fact he would normally have dropped his children at school by car, but on that day had to leave early for work.
Speaking exclusively to the Mail, Nadeem said: ‘I work as a taxi driver, and had to go to work at 4am, so he made his own way.
‘We are all struggling with the pain of losing Mustafa. He was a really charming little boy with a vibrant personality. He had an older sister, a younger sister and a younger brother and they all miss him so much.’
What makes the family’s anguish greater is they still don’t know how Mustafa ended up on an e-scooter. The family didn’t own one.
And the scooters, provided by Birmingham City Council as part of a ‘green’ initiative, are meant for adults only and should never have been accessible to a child.
One theory, the family told the Mail, is the scooter, rented via micro-mobility company Voi, had been abandoned by whoever had booked it with paid time still ‘on the clock’ which Mustafa had been unable to resist. Such temptation would prove too much for most children.
The family are resigned to not knowing the exact circumstances surrounding the death until the full inquest, which will be later this year.
‘We don’t know what happened, only that he was on one of these scooters and they are very dangerous things to have lying around the city,’ said Nadeem.
Significant confusion exists over how, and where, e-scooters can be ridden legally in the UK.
Fatima and the 14-year-old who killed Linda Davis were riding privately-owned e-scooters. These, unbeknown to many, are only permitted to be ridden on private land, and not in public spaces.
Mustafa, however, appears to have chanced upon a scooter operated by Swedish company Voi, which introduced them in the West Midlands two years ago. These can be ridden on roads, but not on pavements.
The e-scooter epidemic has reached such heights that they are not only killing children — but turning them into unwitting killers, too (file image)
Currently there are around 30 such scooter hire trials ongoing in England until May 2024. Although there are designated parking zones for the scooters, they can be left pretty much anywhere, then either rehired or rounded up by staff.
To rent a Voi scooter in Birmingham, you need to download an app, and scan an image of your driving licence, bank card details and proof of age.
There are 1,500 scooters operating within an 80 kilometre square area of the city centre. It costs £1 to unlock them and 20 pence a minute thereafter.
‘We understand sometimes people book these scooters for maybe 50 minutes and then leave them before their time is up so anyone can jump on and use them,’ says Mustafa’s uncle, Waqas Rashid.
‘There is no enforcement action by the police.
‘They just say they have not got the resources, so we are left with a dangerous free-for-all where a child can pick one of these things up and just start riding.’
The cheapest, child-size e-scooters start at £125 while more top-of-the-range versions, with a longer battery life, can set you back upwards of £700. Most travel at speeds of between 15 and 25mph, though some super-powered varieties go as fast as 60mph.
I lost love of my life in accident on pavement
Their popularity flies in the face of the fact that the letter of the law is extremely restrictive: if they’re ridden anywhere other than private property, they can be impounded and destroyed.
Regardless, in the run up to Christmas, a £299 e-scooter was being marketed on Amazon as ‘your best commuting or outdoor travel companion’ while other big retailers, including Halfords, Argos and Currys, had similar advertising campaigns.
So why aren’t the police acting to stem unlawful e-scooter use?
While the Metropolitan Police seized 4,000 unlawfully used scooters in 2021, they only withheld 1,100 in 2022.
This is thought to be due to the policy over their usage being under review. Many people believed the Government would make privately owned e-scooters legal by the middle of 2022, as they are in many countries in Europe.
Dee Carroll, 41, from Heywood, Greater Manchester, knows only too well how tempting — and lethal — the scooters can be for teenagers.
Her son Jamie, 14, was seriously injured when he was hit by a taxi while riding an e-scooter on a road close to his home in August 2021, despite strict instructions from his parents not to venture outside their garden on it.
Today, Jamie considers himself lucky. His right leg was badly broken, requiring five hours of surgery, during which a rod and pins were inserted into the femur, while his shattered wrist was put in a cast.
Twenty months after the collision, Jamie still suffers pain in his leg, exacerbated by the fact he has grown several inches since the rod was inserted, and is awaiting another operation to remove or, if necessary, replace it.
‘Getting a call to say Jamie had been hit by a car was one of the worst moments of my life,’ recalls Dee. ‘He could easily have been killed.’
Dee and husband Craig had spent £900 on two e-scooters, for Jamie and his older and younger brothers to share, two months earlier, primarily to use during the family’s regular visits to Skegness where, as they stayed at a holiday park on private land, it was legal for them to ride.
Dee and husband Craig had spent £900 on two e-scooters, for Jamie and his older and younger brothers to share, two months earlier, primarily to use during the family’s regular visits to Skegness where, as they stayed at a holiday park on private land, it was legal for them to ride (file image)
At home the boys were only allowed to ride them in their sizeable garden.
However, on the day of the accident, Jamie had sneaked out while his mother was distracted.
Five minutes later, unaware Jamie and his friend had ridden off together on the scooter, Dee got a call from her older son, Josh, 20, to say Jamie had been hit as the taxi turned right onto a side street.
She found her son screaming in agony. Jamie, who was not wearing a helmet, hit the car’s windscreen before landing on the ground, hitting his head which mercifully left him with nothing more serious than a large bump, but also shattered bones in his leg and arm.
Mother found son screaming in agony
Dee has noticed a change in her son, now 16, since the accident. To her relief, he has been put off riding e-scooters. More concerningly, though, he’s no longer interested in his previously beloved BMX bike and spends much more time alone in his room.
‘Any parent thinking of buying an e-scooter for their child really must think again,’ she says. ‘You can tell kids until you’re blue in the face not to do something but we can’t constantly monitor them.’
After the accident, Greater Manchester Police warned Dee and Craig that they could face a criminal prosecution because their son was riding the e-scooter in a public place, without insurance or a driving licence.
According to an Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine report in the British Medical Journal, the average age of those treated for injuries involving electric scooters is just 12.
‘There is a wide range of e-scooter injuries from minor skin and soft tissue injuries to blunt airway, chest and abdominal trauma,’ said the report, published this year.
‘The public seems to be unaware of the legal framework or consequences regarding e-scooter use in children or the ramifications of such injuries. We believe a wider public health education campaign and national Emergency Department research study of e-scooter injuries is required.’
The devastated family of Mustafa Nadeem agrees wholeheartedly.
‘To kids, e-scooters are a fun thing, but there are no helmets provided, no lights,’ says his uncle, Waqas Rashid. ‘I understand the attraction in terms of cutting emissions, but this has not been thought through.
‘I know other countries use them, but they have better infrastructure and more cycle lanes.
‘In this country they are accidents waiting to happen.’