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Italy to crack down on e-scooters after deaths, accidents

ROME — The Italian government on Tuesday announced a crackdown on the use of electric scooters on city streets, looking to cut accidents, reduce injuries and prevent pavements from becoming cluttered obstacle courses.

Updating Italy’s highway code, the government also announced it would suspend driving licenses for people caught using a mobile phone while behind the wheel and promised zero tolerance for anyone found drunk or on drugs while driving.

Like in many European countries, the use of e-scooters has boomed across Italy in recent years, with rental companies flooding major cities with scooters for rent that are popular with locals and tourists alike.

However, police have reported countless accidents, with six people dying in Rome alone over the past two years while riding scooters. Scooters have also caused problems for pedestrians, with no rules in place for where they should be left.

Under the new regulations approved by the cabinet, riders will have to wear a helmet and have insurance, while e-scooters will now be required to have a registration plate. The measures will have to be approved by parliament to become law.

It will be forbidden to ride the two-wheelers outside of built-up areas, such as on major highways, or to leave them parked haphazardly on pavements.

“We need to restore a bit of order. Thinking about the pavements of the big cities like Milan and Rome, it is like a gymkhana for people with pushchairs,” Transport Minister Matteo Salvini said after unveiling his plan.

Despite offering an environmentally friendly way to get around town, e-scooters have faced a backlash from people, who have felt threatened by the zippy, silent machines.

Parisians voted in April to ban them from the French capital. There has been no such suggestion in Italy, although various cities have looked to cap the speed limit of scooters and reduce the number of firms that can hire them out. — Reuters

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