Safety a priority for PMD rental businesses, but insurance is a challenge for some

Safety a priority for PMD rental businesses, but insurance is a challenge for some

File photo of a man riding an e-scooter
File photo of a man riding an e-scooter. (Photo: AFP/Tobias Schwarz)

SINGAPORE: Businesses that rent out personal mobility devices (PMDs) say they have a focus on safety to try to prevent their customers adding to the number of accidents involving the popular mode of transport.

Just last month, there were two deaths reported from PMD-related incidents.

A study by Tan Tock Seng Hospital also found an increase in the number of PMD-related accidents between January 2017 to September this year, with head and neck injuries being the most common.

To protect riders and third parties from such injuries, PMD rental shops that CNA spoke to said that they offer safety briefings and safety equipment for riders at no extra charge.

While it is not mandatory for rental companies to provide any safety equipment, e-scooter rental company CityScoot provides helmets for customers to use at their discretion, said manager Kenny Chang, 38.

“(We would like) to make customers feel safer, as sometimes it’s their first time riding such devices,” he said.

The company also requires riders to sign a waiver form with regulations mandated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). The form lays out the places that riders can use e-scooters, and the stipulated speed limits on different paths.

Current regulations only allow PMDs to be used on footpaths at 10kmh and shared paths at 25kmh. PMDs are not allowed on roads.

READ: Speed limit for PMDs, bicycles to be cut to 10kmh on footpaths

READ: FAQ: What you need to know about the new active mobility regulations

JoyScoot, another e-scooter rental company, said that they provide training for customers before they use the e-scooters.

“We explain how to use the scooter, how to brake, how to do it, the safety features like why you should not go in the dark, and to not do it very fast, it can be dangerous – the basic things,” said manager Guzel Yapupopa, 35.

“And then of course, we also show them and then we see how they can manage it … If we see that they can drive it, and they’re confident, then we let (them) go.”

Usually, staff will check if customers know how to ride a bicycle, said Ms Yapupopa, as balance is important in riding PMDs.

“If we can see that it’s not safe for them, we always (tell them) not to take the risk,” she said.

The company also has a minimum age limit of 14 years for riders, with those aged between 14 and 17 requiring adult supervision to ride.

Ms Yapupopa added that with the spate of highly-publicised PMD-related accidents, JoyScoot “(teaches) more from the beginning” to ensure that customers can ride. The company also includes pictures with their instructions for customers who are less fluent in English.

PROVIDING INSURANCE

Other than safety training and equipment, some companies also provide insurance coverage for both riders and third parties.

Mr Phua Tien Siong, 42, owner of Unique Speed, said that his company has public liability insurance which covers accidents to third parties.

“We also conduct events involving PMDs,” said Mr Phua. “So the public liability insurance covers all the company’s activities, which includes events and rentals.”

The lifestyle company, which specialises in PMDs including rentals, has had insurance since its inception in 2015.

READ: Slow ride for PMD insurance: Insurers say interest picking up, but riders point out gaps

While some companies have not found an insurance provider, they are actively looking. 

Ms Yapupopa said that JoyScoot has been looking to get insurance “for quite a long time already”, but has so far been unsuccessful in finding a suitable partner.

While they do have insurance coverage through their partnership with Grab – which provides insurance for its riders – Ms Yapupopa said that the company would like to have its own insurance too.

As for CityScoot, Mr Chang said that they have reached out to the company that partners with Grab, but have not managed to get quotations yet.

He said: “It’s not that we don’t want to have insurance. We have been trying to engage insurance companies.  There’s too many grey areas with regards to the rental of PMDs, so as of now there's no insurance company that actually does cover rental of PMDs.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove the reference to Neuron Mobility, which is currently not operating in Singapore.

Source: CNA/cc

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