In nearly every city in the world, a new mode of transportation has emerged. Offering a convenient means for travelling short distances, electric scooters are increasingly popular with commuters.
They provide an innovative solution to travel distances considered too far to walk yet without requiring the hassle of public transportation or private vehicles. And, with the recent introduction of scooter sharing services, such as Bird and Lime, users can have an inexpensive and easy access to scooters.
But electric scooters are not without danger. According to the medical journal JAMA Network Open, more people were injured while riding standing electric scooters than by riding a bicycle or walking based on a study over a one-year period in two Los Angeles emergency departments. One e-scooter sharing service needed to recall certain scooters that malfunctioned and injured riders. And even more traumatic, the BBC reported that a passenger train in the Netherlands collided with an electric cart, used to transport school children, after the cart’s brakes failed to function properly.
Given the increased prevalence of so-called personal e-transporters and their questionable safety record, the IEC has set up a new technical committee, TC 125, to provide standardization in the areas of safety and reliability, the protection against hazards, docking stations, recharging and recycling.
According to Luk Van Hecke, who will serve as assistant secretary to the new TC, “there is a need in the IEC for the work of a TC to standardise the evolutions in this market and to guarantee public safety as these devices become more and more common in the public space.”
These standards will apply to electrically powered transport devices with one or more wheels where the speed or steering is controlled electronically. It includes electric scooters, monocycles and Segways but excludes electric bicycles, motor bikes or cars since they are already addressed by other technical committees. Standards will only apply for devices used on public roads and spaces.
Issues that TC 125 will address include:
- Terminology of the different personal e-transporters
- Reliability of the speed control (acceleration and braking) and steering
- Definitions of the different safety and reliability levels based on the maximum speed of the device and, subsequently, the different safety precautions. For example, should maximum acceleration and deceleration speeds be imposed or should the weight of the user i.e. whether an adult or a child, impact the maximum speed of the device.
- Requirements regarding visibility depending on where the device is used. This can include requirements to use lights, horns or reflectors.
- Protection against hazards such as fire and water.
- Requirements for recharging and public docking stations.
- Methods for testing safety requirements.
The secretariat of the new TC will be held by Belgium.