If you live in an urban area, it is likely that you have seen many people driving small electric scooters, on pavements, the road and bike lanes. However, you might not be aware that, in most cases, these vehicles are currently illegal for use in public spaces, unless they are rented from a company that offers insurance for the drivers.
If you are considering buying an electric scooter to get from point A to point B, you should first be aware of the legal implications of doing so. If you happen to cause an accident or are injured while riding one illegally, you could face significant penalties and may not have insurance to cover either injuries to yourself or a third party.
As the rise in popularity of e-scooters is a new phenomenon, it is difficult to be properly informed on the subject. With this in mind, the personal injury experts at JMW Solicitors have produced this guide to help you understand exactly when you can and can not use an electric scooter, what the government's current regulations are surrounding them, and what punishment you could be facing if you break the law on one of these vehicles.
Currently, it is illegal to drive a privately-owned e-scooter on roads in the UK. This is because e-scooters - designated as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) - do not currently comply with any laws under the Road Traffic Act 1988 about road vehicles, which requires them to be insured like any other type of motorised vehicle - with the exception of electric bikes. Due to this, insurance companies do not offer coverage for private e-scooter use like they would for a car or motorcycle.
In addition to this, it is illegal to drive rental e-scooters on the pavement due to the fact they are motorised, and this law will most likely be kept when private scooters are legislated.
The UK government has proposed a new ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV) transport bill to be enacted in 2023 with the goal of addressing the current private e-scooter laws around their use on roads. However, until this passes through, private e-scooters can only be used on private land, and taking one out onto a road or other public space is considered a motoring offence.
You may be wondering: if e-scooters are illegal to use, why are there still so many in use? At present, private companies are using a trial rental scheme which allows members to rent an e-scooter for temporary use. The scheme is being run in cities across the UK and meets the UK government's experimental legal requirements by insuring the scooters for public use. In the case of an accident, the insurance allows litigation to take place in the same way it would in the event of an accident between two motor vehicles.
If you wish to try using an e-scooter, check online to see if there is a scheme running in your city. You may need to download an app and will need to pay to unlock the vehicle.
If you are planning on driving a rental scooter, make sure you do so safely and in the right places, and that you hold a driver’s licence. You should avoid driving your scooter on the pavement as you could cause injury to yourself or other people. Instead, stick to bike lanes and quieter roads. Do not attempt to take a rental scooter onto the motorway. Also, if you are planning to drive an e-scooter, it is important to note that most rental scooters do not come with a helmet or any sort of protective gear, so you should make sure to bring your own.
While e-scooters may be a step forward for CO2 emissions, they present a number of legal challenges due to their size, speed and lack of safety. The scooters are not capable of travelling at very high speeds, they are still fast enough to cause injury to a pedestrian or the driver. This, combined with the lack of protection they offer for a driver can pose some significant health risks. If the driver of an e-scooter was to collide with a car on the road, their injuries could be severe.
For the UK government to effectively legalise the widespread use of e-scooters across the UK, legislators must consider all of these safety implications and enact laws that will minimise the risk for all road users (including the e-scooter users).
Unless the government changes the current PLEV classification for e-scooters, it is expected that driving a privately-owned scooter on the road will require the user to have a driver's licence, insurance, adequate lights and indicators, and a helmet. Additionally, they will most likely remain illegal on pathways.
If you are caught driving an e-scooter that you privately own anywhere that is not private land, you can expect your actions to be treated as a motoring offence. Currently, you will receive a £300 fine, will have your scooter confiscated by the police, and may incur a driving ban. If the police confiscate your e-scooter, you will only be able to claim it back if you hold insurance - something currently impossible to get for private e-scooters.
Further from this, there are a number of personal injury repercussions. If you are injured while driving a private e-scooter, you will struggle to make a personal injury compensation claim, as you would for driving any other type of vehicle, due to the fact your actions will have been illegal and considered as knowingly putting yourself and others at risk. If you sustain an injury and require financial support, this may be a serious problem for you, and you may struggle to get the help you require.
Due to the fact that e-scooters are easy to buy from high-street shops or online, and do not usually come with warnings about the legalities surrounding them, it is very easy to accidentally commit a motoring offence or fail to qualify for a personal injury claim while riding one.
If you have had an accident while riding an e-scooter, or the driver of an e-scooter has acted in a negligent way, causing you harm, you should speak to our personal injury claims team. We will help you understand your options and make a personal injury claim that will help you with recovery costs. We also tackle personal injury claims on a no win, no fee basis, meaning you will be at minimal financial risk when choosing to make a claim with us.