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E-scooters are now a common sight on our roads and footpaths and in our parks. And that’s not surprising when you consider that over one million of them have been imported into the UK since 2019. However, unless you are participating in one of the increasing number of rental scheme trials, it’s illegal to use an e-scooter on the highway (which includes footpaths) and in other public spaces.
Rental scheme e-scooters incorporate safety features such as automatic lights and a maximum speed of 15.5 miles per hour (further restricted to 5 miles per hour in areas with high numbers of pedestrians). Although wearing a helmet is not compulsory, schemes offer a discount if you do (just upload a selfie at the start of your hire).
With a rental scheme, you are also insured if you are involved in an accident. As private e-scooters are illegal on the highway, it’s not currently possible to obtain insurance for them. This means you risk having your e-scooter seized, as well as a fine of £300 and up to six penalty points for riding without insurance.
In addition, all e-scooters require the rider to have either a full or provisional driving licence (incorporating category Q). Riding without a licence will attract a fine of up to £100 and between three and six penalty points.
Widespread safety concerns over e-scooters seem justified, with figures confirming that between January and October 2021, they were involved in nine deaths and 300 serious injuries. In 2021, ambulances attended 713 incidents involving an e-scooter, up from 392 in 2020. Despite this, the government are expected to announce in the Queen’s Speech on 10th May that they will introduce legislation in the next parliamentary session to legalise private e-scooters subject to them meeting minimum safety specifications. BLB Solicitor’s head of personal injury, Andrew Atkinson, said:
“With e-scooters almost certainly going to become legal in some form in the next twelve months, it’s essential that safety concerns are addressed from the outset for the benefit of all road users, including pedestrians. That doesn’t just mean private e-scooters incorporating minimum safety specifications but also the compulsory use of helmets and a minimum standard of training for riders. Let’s not forget that even to ride a small moped on ‘L’ plates, you must complete a compulsory basic training (CBT) course.
“Raising awareness in advance will also be crucial. With over a million e-scooters already in the country, there’s a significant risk of a mass free-for-all from day one.”