A coroner has warned about the ‘ease’ with which children are illegally using e-scooters, after the death of a 12 year old who was knocked off one on his way to school and crushed by a bus.
Mustafa Nadeem managed to bypass age restrictions after a 14 year old friend, who had transferred his father’s account over to his phone on an app without any identity or age checks, unlocked one for him.
E-scooters were authorised in the area as part of a national pilot scheme, on the condition those who use them have a valid motor-vehicle driving licence and be aged 18 or over.
Now, Birmingham and Solihull area coroner James Bennett has written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper calling for a clamp down as West Midlands Combined Authority announce plans to reintroduce the scooters.
Mustafa Nadeem, 12, was riding an e-scooter along the pavement when the tragedy occurred
Detective Sergeant Paul Hughes, from West Midlands Police, said that the tragedy was caught on CCTV from both the bus and nearby businesses
The inquest in the city heard Mustafa was riding the vehicle to school on December 6 last year, before ‘colliding’ with a pedestrian and falling into the path of a bus and being run over.
Tragically, the youngster’s crush injuries were so severe he was declared deceased at the scene in Bordesley Green, Birmingham.
In a Prevention of Future Deaths report, area coroner James Bennett revealed ‘matters giving rise to concern’ that had arisen throughout Mustafa’s inquest about e-scooter users.
‘The deceased was using a hire e-scooter to travel to school despite having no driving licence and being aged 12,’ he wrote.
‘The account used to access the hire e-scooter belonged to a friend who had no driving licence, was aged 14, and was regularly using an under 16s bank account to pay for rides.
‘I heard evidence that Department for Transport guidance requires a driving licence, age and identity check when an account is created on a mobile device.
‘However, users can easily transfer the account to another device and no further identity and age check is required.
‘In this case the account was originally created on an adult’s mobile phone, but quickly and easily transferred to a child’s mobile phone and payment switched to an under 16s bank account.
‘Department for Transport guidance did not require the e-scooter provider to undertake any age or identity checks at the point of transfer.’
The coroner raised concerns about the only guidance for local authorities that choose to role out the national pilot scheme of e-scooters coming from the Department for Transport, as there is no regulatory body.
‘In my view the use of hire e-scooters is not analogous to the supply of other motor vehicles,’ he added.
‘During the evidence the point was made that the manufacturers of cars/motorbikes do not undertake any checks once the vehicle is with the customer.
‘This can be contrasted to hire e-scooters being readily available, do not involve any face-to-face contact with a responsible adult at the point of unlocking, and are quickly accessed via mobile phone ‘apps’.
‘Children are likely to have many ‘apps’ on their mobile phones and the legal significance of a motor vehicle ‘app’ is likely to be diluted and/or not appreciated at all.’
Continuing his report, Mr Bennett said evidence throughout the inquest meant there was still ‘a risk that future deaths will occur’.
‘My principal concern is the evidence demonstrates the ease in which children can (illegally) use hire e-scooters,’ he wrote.
‘My specific concerns are the evidence demonstrates current hire e-scooter precautions, and education/information, is not effective in preventing children from (illegally) using hire e-scooters.’
In conclusion, he added: ‘In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken and I believe the Department of Transport has the power to take such action.
He added that the Department for Transport is under a duty to respond – which was also sent to West Midlands Combined Authority and Collaborative Mobility UK – by September 5.
MailOnline has approached the Department of Transport for a comment.
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