E-scooters: Riding into the future
Lightweight and compact, electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular, with many people renting them or purchasing them from big retailers. It’s looking like they could be the future mode of transport for travelling short distances. However, the pertinent question over their safety still remains.
The law surrounding e-scooters
Although it is legal to own an electric scooter in the UK, due to being a relatively new mode of transport, the law surrounding the use of electric scooters is quite complicated.
Privately owned e-scooters
It may come as a surprise to many but it is currently illegal to use privately owned electric scooters on public roads, pavements and cycle lanes. You can however, use a privately owned electric scooter on private land but you must obtain permission from the landowner first.
As they are propelled by a motor and ‘intended to be used on the road,’ electric scooters are classed as ‘powered transporters’ under the Road Traffic Act 1988 so the same laws that apply to motor vehicles apply to electric scooters.
If you are found to be using a privately owned electric scooter on a public road, you could face a £300 fine and 6 points added to your driving licence.
Conversely, rental electric scooters are allowed to be used on public roads and cycle lanes.
Transport for London is currently holding a trial of rental electric scooters which is expected to run until Autumn of this year. This will allow the Government to have a better indication of the safety of electric scooters and how their use should be regulated in the future.
As it stands, you must be 18 years or over to rent an electric scooter and a valid driving licence is required. Insurance is also provided to those renting an electric scooter. The speed of electric scooters in London is currently capped at 12.5 mph and training is provided to teach riders how to stay safe.
Although they are environmentally friendly, electric scooters can be very dangerous and are unfortunately responsible for many accidents, injuries and fatalities on the road.
The Department of Transport has reported that in June 2021, ‘there were 882 accidents involving electric scooters.’
As time progresses, there is likely to be a positive correlation between the number of electric scooters on the road and the number of accidents involving electric scooters. The injuries sustained from being involved in an accident can range from being minor to catastrophic such as whiplash, serious fractures and traumatic head injuries which can be life changing.
It is yet to be established as to where electric scooters will feature in the hierarchy of road users which was implemented into the Highway Code at the beginning of last year. Given how vulnerable electric scooter riders are on the road, one would expect electric scooters to be placed nearer the top of the hierarchy.
Electric scooters have many benefits such as reducing congestion and air pollution. However, they still pose a significant risk to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians which could potentially take away from their environmental and health benefits. Nevertheless, there needs to be an equilibrium between making them an attractive alternative to using cars but also safe enough to not counteract the health and environmental advantages of their use.
By Nadine Adeyemi
If you have been involved in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Personal Injury specialists on 01702 339222.