E-scooters have grown in popularity in recent years, with purchasing in the UK continuing to rise but the rules surrounding their use are often misconstrued. Here is everything you need to know if you are planning to ride your own e-scooter in the UK and what to do if you are involved in a collision with one.
A scooter is a two-wheeled transporter with a platform for the rider to stand on and a handlebar above the front wheel. An e-scooter is so-called because it is propelled by an electric motor. Due to this motor, e-scooters are classified as a “motor vehicle” under s. 185(c) Road Traffic Act 1988, and therefore the same rules and regulations that apply to other motor vehicles (like cars and motorbikes) also apply to e-scooters. Failure to comply with these rules is a criminal offence.
The rules applying to e-scooters at the moment depends on whether the e-scooter is privately owned or rented as part of a government trial.
Privately owned e-scooters can only be used on private land, with the owner or occupiers permission. A privately owned e-scooter cannot be used on the pavements, pedestrian-only areas, in cycle lanes, bridleways or restricted byways. In theory, it may be possible for an e-scooter to be used on public roads if the rider could comply with the requirements for other motor vehicles. This would include having valid insurance, conforming to technical standards, paying vehicle tax, licencing, registration, driver testing and the use of safety equipment. It is extremely unlikely that a rider could comply with all these requirements as the law stands currently and therefore private e-scooter use anywhere that is not on private land is strongly discouraged. The full rules can be found here.
You may have seen e-scooter rentals in a city near you, in a similar way to bicycle hire schemes. The government are running trials in 32 areas across the UK to help determine how e-scooters can be safely used. There have been several injuries and deaths of e-scooter riders across Europe and in the UK, with TV presenter and Youtuber Emily Hartidge being struck and killed by a lorry whilst riding an e-scooter in London in 2019. To rent an e-scooter the rider must:
There are a number of other rules that the rider must comply with, which can be found here. The e-scooter must also be insured, but this will be taken care of by the rental company.
The consequences for riding an e-scooter and not complying with the law vary depending on the seriousness of the offence, but are typically prosecuted as criminal offences. Potential penalties a rider could incur include a fine, penalty points on a driving licence (if the rider has one) and disqualification from driving. If a rider is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs they can be convicted of the relevant criminal offences, which can incur a prison sentence. Moreover, offences related to speeding and standard of care whilst driving also apply to e-scooters.
Despite the current law, e-scooters continue to be regularly used on roads and pavements. As a consequence, the risk of injury to both riders and pedestrians is high. Moreover, given that rental e-scooters must be used on the roads, the chances of a collision with a car is much higher, which could result in more serious injuries.
E-scooter riders owe a duty of care to other road users and are entitled to a duty of care in return. If this duty is breached, then this may give rise to a claim in negligence, for which damages are recoverable. The amount of money likely to be paid out will depend on the severity and impact the injury has had on a victim’s life and any lost earnings as a result of the injury. The amount of money will vary dramatically and the highest sums are reserved for life-changing injuries which require continuous care. Insurance companies should cover this, whether a car, motorbike or e-scooter is involved in a collision, however, if you are injured by an uninsured e-scooter it may still be possible to recover damages, but this will depend on several factors, such as whether the person at fault has available funds to cover the cost of a claim or whether other factors contributed to the collision, for example, the road being in poor repair or lack of clear sign posting.
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