Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people choosing to drive electric scooters. In 2020 in particular, more people are seeking this type of vehicle as a means of safe travel due to public health guidance advising against public transport in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While electric scooters certainly have their benefits, they do not guarantee a safe method of getting from place to place and should only be used when done so safely and within the law. In fact, according to a Telegraph report this month, the Metropolitan Police have reported a 700% increase in electric scooter collisions. Whether you intend to use an electric scooter for leisure or commuting, it’s important to be aware of the safety and legal matters concerning this form of transport.
In today’s blog post we are going to be looking at the rise in people using electric scooters, the top risks of driving this type of vehicle, and what you should know in terms of the legal elements associated with riding a scooter.
Why Are More People Using Electric Scooters?
There are several reasons that can help explain why more people are choosing to ride an electric scooter as opposed to other forms of transport. As explained above, one of the reasons is the current guidance that discourages the use of public transport. Buses and trains are seen as high-risk areas for transmission of the coronavirus due to their inability to ensure social distancing requirements are met. An electric scooter can be seen as more efficient and accessible than walking, cycling or driving a car.
Another reason to consider is the fact that e-scooters are environmentally friendly as they don’t run off harmful fuel such as petrol. With the world paying more attention to solutions that are good for the environment, it’s no surprise to see that electric scooters are at the forefront this push for a greener future. Electric scooters are also very cost-friendly as they typically aren’t expensive to buy outright and there are not many maintenance fees to worry about. Finally, scooters are convenient to operate and store due to their compact size and ease of use, and they can be very fun to ride.
Some of the Top Risks of Driving a Scooter
Ultimately, the benefits of an electric scooter are clear to see, so it’s no surprise that more people are deciding to try it out for themselves. But that doesn’t mean that riding an electric scooter is risk-free. It’s critical to understand that this is not a child’s toy and there are dangers to be aware of. Anyone who decides to ride an e-scooter should fully understand the risks and only drive the vehicle if they take it serious enough.
Electric scooters are not limited like pedal bikes or non-electric scooters. They don’t rely on the rider’s strength and energy to function, and many can exceed high speeds over 30mph. Driving at high speeds such as this can still seriously injury the rider or other road users should an accident occur. We will talk about the legal factors in the next section, but it should go without saying that riding an electric scooter isn’t an excuse to drive recklessly and it’s important to avoid a feeling of invincibility or a false sense of confidence. As a driver, you have as much as a responsibility as any other motorist to keep yourself and others safe from harm’s way.
Driving an electric scooter means that there are external factors that can pose a threat to your safety, many of which are shared by motorcyclists and cyclists. You have limited protection compared to car drivers and colliding with an object at a high speed may see you fly off your scooter, causing serious injuries. You will be less visible to other road users, even more so than cyclists. Road and environmental hazards such as potholes and heavy wind and rain can cause you to lose control of your scooter. Electric scooters are still relatively new to the scene and this inexperience in itself can cause risks. Riders may appear overconfident or decide to skip equipping safety gear, motorists may underestimate the speed and capability of e-scooters and not know how to navigate the potential hazard, and laws are still trying to catch up to the modern landscape to ensure scooters can be used safely.
What Does the Law Say About Electric Scooters?
The UK government is continuing to explore ways in which electrical scooters can be used safely, but that doesn’t mean every use of this type of vehicle is currently permitted. We must state that it is currently, as of November 2020, against the law to use a privately owned e-scooter. If you ride a private electric scooter, then you may face a fine and penalty points on your license, and the scooter could be impounded
It is, however, legal to ride a rental e-scooter depending on if certain criteria are met. The government is currently running trials in several areas throughout the country permitting the use of rental electric scooters. Under this trial, the scooters are only allowed to be used in these specific areas and they must be rental scooters, not private. Any legal information mentioned here is therefore accurate as of the time of writing and is limited to the trial.
The government trial currently states that the e-scooters should not exceed a speed of 15.5mph. To operate an electric scooter, riders must possess the category Q entitlement on their driving license. Electric scooters must have motor insurance but as the trial is currently limited to rental scooters, the rental operator should arrange this themselves. In terms of safety equipment, helmets are recommended but not legally required, and light-coloured or fluorescent clothing is advised. It’s important to know that scooters should be driven on the road and in cycle lanes, but not on the pavement or on motorways. The scooters do not need to be registered, display registration places or pay vehicle excise duty. Electric scooters should be used by one person at a time, should not tow anything, and drivers should not use their mobile phone while driving.
We are specialists in all kinds of accident claims involving motorcyclists, cyclists or scooter riders. If you have been involved in an accident, would like to know more about your legal rights, or are looking to receive further information on the legal complications of driving an electric scooter, we are more than happy to offer guidance and advice. Contact us online or call 0151 724 7121 to speak to a dedicated solicitor today.