Nowadays as you walk through campus, you can easily find students who use an electric scooter, hoverboard, or another electrically powered mobility device. Such mobile devices are called ‘smart mobility’ or ‘personal mobility.’ Smart mobility refers to an electrically powered vehicle for just one person. It employs smart technologies such as an acceleration sensor and a gyro sensor. The gyro sensor not only helps to balance but sense rotational motion. Personal mobility has more comprehensive meaning. It includes an electrically powered vehicle without smart technologies such as an electric bicycle and solo electric car.
Smart mobility is becoming popular for people because of its advantages. The biggest reason people buy them is because of their ease of portability. Those devices are smaller and lighter and take less space than other transportation such as cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. Even electric scooters can be folded. In other words, it is easy to store and move them. Users don’t have to be worried about traffic jams rush hours, parking areas, loading the bicycles when using public transportation or other stressful situations anymore. Thus, smart mobility is used for the ‘last-mile,’ which means a distance between a bus stop or subway station and destination like school, work, or home.
Also, the mobility device is charged with electricity. It is economically reasonable because it costs less to maintain. Charging with electricity means it does not generate exhaust fumes and makes less air pollution, reducing the use of fossil fuels as well. For this, smart mobility is becoming popular as an eco-friendly next-generation vehicle.
Another strong point is a speed and easy handling. Users are satisfied with its speed. It drives between 20 and 30km per hour on average, which is faster than a bicycle. Smart mobility is easier to control and more intuitive than cars or bicycles. The information you want is in an LED and the gyro sensor helps you ride. All you have to do is to take it out and ride it up.
Because of those strong points, smart mobility device users are increasing every year. Nevertheless, there is much to be desired. The most urgent issue is the legal contradiction between the Road Traffic Act and the Automobile Management Act. Under Clause 19 Article 2 of the Road Traffic Act, a smart mobility device is one classified the same as motor bicycles. Therefore, users can not ride them on sidewalks, parks, and bike lanes but must ride on roads with cars. In doing so, the device needs a safety certification based on the Automobile Management Act. However, smart mobility devices are unable to obtain a safety certification. Due to the contradiction of the law, the device has to be drive only on the roads, but drivers cannot get a safety certificate to run on the roads.
Another problem is riders not abiding by the regulations. A smart mobility device is classified as a motorbike. Therefore, according to the Road Traffic Act, it is necessary to have a motorcycle driver license, or a regular driver license, and to wear safety equipment. Many people do not know this fact, though. We carried out a survey targeting smart mobility device users at Yeungnam University to find out the current state of affairs. Only about 13% of the respondents knew that having a license and body protective equipment was essential and 42% didn’t know that at all. When we asked respondents to choose which rules they actually followed, only approximately 16% followed both regulations. About 42% of people did not follow both regulations.
So why don’t they know or follow the regulations? Unfortunately, it is hard to crack down on because there are no regulations written specifically for smart mobility devices. Since these are new forms of transportation, the devices have been developed and received attention in recent few years. But the laws have not caught up to the current usage. Therefore, the seller has no duty to notify users that they must have a license and safety equipment, nor does the seller have an obligation to verify those things before selling the device.
These problems can increase the amount of traffic accidents involving such devices. According to the Road Traffic Authority, four people died and 124 people were injured last year in smart mobility related accidents. It is too dangerous to drive alongside cars on roads because of the differential speed between cars and smart mobility devices. A driver without a license can cause an accident because of inexperience or poor driving skills, too. Also, a smart mobility device has no frame to protect our body, and without the proper safety gear, fatal injuries are more likely to occur. To make matters worse, if a rider gets hurt, it is uncertain whether her and his insurance will compensate.
Smart mobility devices are a new and interesting mode of transportation. However, as there are no suitable laws yet, the danger is still high and the user is unprotected. For everyone’s safety, relative authorities must revise the laws to reflect the characteristics of smart mobility devices.