A 42-year-old man was killed in Tel Aviv yesterday after crashing his electric scooter into a parked car, police said. Eyal Kolovich of Tel Aviv was not wearing a helmet when he was thrown from the scooter and died at the scene.
The accident took place in the afternoon, as the man was riding along Mesilat Yesharim street in South Tel Aviv. For reasons still unclear, about ten meters after driving around a traffic circle, the rider broke sharply to the right and hit the mirror of a parked car. The impact threw him into the middle of the road. He sustained critical head injuries, paramedics said. A Magen David Adom team tried to resuscitate him at the scene but pronounced him dead within minutes.
Police investigators at the scene took the scooter, a Trekker s560, for tests. Senior traffic police officer Superintendent Nissim Farchi said that although the immediate reason for the accident was not clear, the rider would have had a better chance of survival if he wore a helmet.
"The only vehicles of that kind allowed on the road are scooters weighing under 15 kilograms and no faster than 12 kilometers per hour," Farchi said. "But we see a large number of such vehicles that have been illegally upgraded and improved. We have people riding them against traffic rules and without any suitable protection, which, sadly, can sometimes end as it did today."
Police said regulating the small, light vehicles was "difficult."
The Or Yarok driving association said that "it's a shame we had to see a man dying like that, and it's a shame the Transportation Ministry avoids regulating the absolutely wild scooter market in Israel."
A source in the association said most scooters imported into Israel are illegal, and riding them puts the rider at great risk, all the more so as they are often ridden without helmets or any other protective gear.
"The transportation minister has to get involved and to put down clear rules about protection, insurance coverage and minimal riding age," the source said.
Traffic police sources said yesterday that electric scooters are monitored in accordance with regulations provided by the transport minister, and that tickets are often given to offending riders, similar to enforcement of laws on bicyclists and motorcyclists.
"But I just don't see a policeman sitting somewhere with a speed radar checking that scooters don't go over 12 kilometers per hour," a senior traffic police source told Haaretz.
Unregulated scooters abound in Israel
The electric scooter is just one of many personal vehicles gaining increasing popularity in Israel over the recent years, especially in large cities. Because of the scooters' ambivalent legal status as vehicles, their exact numbers are unknown, but most estimates hover just under 10,000.
The scooter sits uneasily with many transportation ministries around the world, including Israel. According to Transportation Ministry regulations, Israelis can only use an electric-powered scooter weighing no more than 12 kilograms, with an engine no stronger than 100 watts, and with a speed limit of 12 kmh. By vehicle standards, such a scooter amounts to little more than a children's toy.
Most scooters operating in Israel, however, exceed these criteria many times over. The scooter involved in the fatal accident yesterday did not match transportation ministry regulations. The scooters' movement is also unregulated, and they can be seen on both sidewalks and streets. (Shay Fogelman)
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