Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Coimbra are the districts that together count 74 accidents registered with scooters and electric bikes in the first semester of the year; that means a significant increase compared to the first half of 2018. The use of helmets by drivers in these kinds of vehicles reduces almost in half the risk of fatal injuries and almost 70% of chances of wounds, according to the World Health Organization. This is the data being used as the basis of the new awareness campaign of the Automóvel Clube de Portugal – ACP (Portugal Automobile Club).
Using two watermelons and the slogan “Don’t be open! Think with your head” the campaign will involve different type of media with the goal of spreading the message so to convince users of these types of equipment to minimize their driving risks.
For the President of ACP, the plea imposes itself not only because of the number of accidents but also because he considers that the use of helmets is mandatory by law, even if the technical guidelines of the ANSR (National Authority on Road Safety) made the use of helmets in scoters, electric bicycles or similar equipment, optional.
Carlos Barbosa states that “traffic regulations are not being respected. There are many equipment of the sort that can reach 30 to 40 Km/hour and both the Ministry of Interior, the Lisbon Municipality and the ANSR are basing their decision on a report made by the ANSR itself that is 50 or 60 years old, when bicycles just appeared in Portugal. The report said that it wasn’t mandatory to use helmets on bicycles”. But, according to Carlos Barbosa, “the current regulation clearly says that up to a certain cylinder capacity and a determined kVA (Electrical Tension x current) of electricity, it is mandatory to use helmets, so it’s very clear on that remark”.
ACP didn’t accept this report and it’s fighting it in court but until there isn’t a judicial decision, it thought it was imperative to make a safety campaign so that people ride bicycles and scooters safely. For the head of ACP “the report doesn’t make any sense” but since the court can take a long time before taking a decision, it considers very important to alert those who use this type of mobility for the risks that they are facing if they ride without a helmet.
These vehicles entered cities daily life at a very high speed. Just in one month more than 10 new operators requested a license to operate in the capital, without previously making any awareness campaigns, something that is done in other countries, regrets ACP’s head. As it happens in other European countries, the helmet can be acquired at the same time of the renting of the equipment.
Carlos Barbosa gives an example, “even if its not mandatory in some countries, the scooters or bicycles providers have huge closets near the equipment where the user, with his or her credit card, can take the equipment and also a helmet, and when for example the bicycle is given back, also the helmet is handed over, even if that happens in the other side of the city, without any problem”
ACP’s campaign, already presented in Lisbon, will now travel all over the country starting in Porto. The main goal is to protect people, specially children, because up until now these are completely undisciplined equipment; they go on sidewalks, crosswalks, go against traffic, sometimes parked anywhere, etc.
Until the use of helmet doesn’t become mandatory, ACP wants people to understand the risk that they are taking, citing studies of the World Health Organization that point out that by not using helmets, 44% of drivers are risking fatal injuries while 66% serious injuries. “It’s a transportation mean that is now gaining importance in cities and we need to protect people”.
According to the PSP (Police) data, in the first semester of 2019 67 more accidents where registered than in the same period last year, where 52 where injured, that is, 47 more than in 2018 originating from 10 hit and runs, 44 collisions and 20 crashes. In this domain, safety authorities registered more than a hundred fines, 31 referring to excess of alcohol with tickets going between 125 and 1.250 Euros.