24 Aug 2020

Personal Injury

E-Scooters: What you need to know

E-scooters are the new trend in transport, claiming to be the greener way to commute to work and get around town easily. With plans being discussed to expand the Government’s e-scooter rental trial across the UK, we could soon be seeing more of them on our roads.

But before you make plans to ditch the car, bike or bus pass, there are some important restrictions that you should know about. Our Personal Injury Senior Associate Solicitor, Victoria Smithyman, explains the law and safety considerations around this latest form of transport.

The Law

On July 4, the Department for Transport introduced a private rental trial scheme allowing e-scooters to be rented and ridden on roads in selective areas around England. Currently, the West Midlands, Portsmouth and Southampton, Derby and Nottingham and the West of England Combined Authority (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol & South Gloucestershire) are pioneering the initiative as an alternative option to public transport.

You don’t need your own insurance to hire an e-scooter but you do need a driving licence.

The Government will be monitoring the safety of the year-long scheme and, if successful, plans to roll it out to other parts of England too.  The Welsh Government is considering bringing in a similar initiative for Wales too.

However, what you may not know is that this private rental scheme is currently the only legal way to ride an e-scooter in the UK. Although you can buy one for as little as £100, it is currently against the law to use an e-scooter on any public road. If you use a privately owned e-scooter on any public road, cycle lane or pavement – even in the areas where the private rental scheme is being trialled – you can be fined a £300 fixed penalty notice and get six points on your driving licence.

The UK government says it is planning to revaluate the law regarding e- scooters, so we may see some changes soon, but for now, the only place you can ride a privately owned e-scooter is on private land.

Safety of E-scooters

Statistically, e-scooters are safe. The UK is one of only three countries that does not allow e-scooters on public roads, while in Europe, they are extremely common and have proved very successful. In Madrid, for example, riders took over a million trips last year alone.

A study by the International Transport Forum (ITF) on safety and micro mobility found that e-scooter riders do not face a significantly higher risk of road traffic death or injury than cyclists do. In fact, a trip by car or by motorcycle in a dense urban area is more likely to result in a traffic fatality than a trip by a micro-vehicle, which includes skateboards and skates as well as bicycles and scooters.

However, as with any new form of transport, it is better to be safe than sorry. There are still so many unknowns on the safety of e-scooters, which is why the government is conducting the consultation and trials.

E-scooters can reach speeds in excess of 30mph but some have only a single brake, which makes stopping safely more difficult, and could cause more accidents. Currently there is no legal requirement to wear protective gear; however, it is strongly advised, to protect the rider from harm.

Involved in an accident

Police are cracking down on e-scooter users in order to improve road safety. As we’ve said, they are currently banned on the roads but if the rental schemes are extended and the laws relaxed, there will inevitably be more collisions and accidents.

An e-scooter rider owes a duty of care to pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. The scooters are certainly capable of inflicting life-altering injuries when ridden dangerously so it is important to always take care when riding – or indeed when you are walking, cycling or driving near one.

If you have been involved in ab e-scooter accident, and it wasn’t your fault, contact our expert team today on 01633 244233 or email us at hello@hevans.com . Our Personal Injury team will guide you through every step and will take care of your compensation claim so that you can focus on your recovery.

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