Rise of the E Scooter
The prevalence of the E Scooter in towns and cities has soared in recent times, however, there is a widespread lack of awareness of the rules for their use and the consequences for riders and other road users and pedestrians alike.
E Scooters are classified as motor vehicles not pedal cycles (electric or otherwise) and, therefore, riders must remain careful and cautious at all times employing the same vigilance that they would when driving a car.
Private v Public Use
Usage of a privately owned E Scooter on a public highway, cycle lane or pavement is not permitted. A privately owned e scooter can only be used on private land.
In contrast, use of an E Scooter hired through a government trial scheme is permitted in a public place. A rider must however meet the licence requirements before hiring (they can be driven by persons with a full or provisional licence) and they will then be insured automatically through the hire companies’ insurance coverage.
The vehicles themselves have a top speed of 15.5mph (although lower restrictions can become active in densely populated areas) and can be ridden on roads (but not on motorways) and in cycle lanes. E Scooters must not be used on a pavement.
Breach of the rules relating to the usage of E Scooters can be severe. If a rider uses a private e-scooter on a public highway, they risk possible prosecution for driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and/ or no insurance. These offences can carry a fine and penalty points in exactly the same way as a speeding offence by a motorist.
Whilst riders of E Scooters rented through a government scheme should, in theory, meet the relevant administrative requirements, they too must also abide by the usual restrictions on vehicle usage familiar to car drivers. In particular, a person must not ride an E Scooter while drunk or otherwise intoxicated as drink and drug driving laws apply equally to E Scooters. There have been a number of successful prosecutions already of riders of E Scooters for being over the legal limit who have gone on to lose their licence for significant periods.
Other commonly occurring driving infringements such as careless driving, dangerous driving or using a mobile phone whilst driving, all remain applicable to E Scooters. This means that riders of E Scooters can quickly accumulate penalty points upon their licence. The accumulation of 12 or more penalty points can lead to an obligatory 6 month disqualification from driving. In addition, drink or drug driving related offences often carry mandatory 12 month disqualifications. Therefore, misuse of an E Scooter can lead to the loss of a person’s ability to drive.
The official guidance suggests that a cycle helmet should be worn when using an E Scooter, however, whilst recommended, they are not currently a legal requirement.
Guidance also dictates that E scooters are only allowed to be used by one person at a time and they must not be used for towing.
Screens can be used to display navigation information, but these must be set up prior to riding the E Scooter.
The environmental benefits of the green technology utilised by E Scooters are no doubt significant, however, their usage and the responsibilities that come with them, cannot be understated. This is a quickly evolving area of law and it is important that users of E Scooters familiarise themselves with the applicable rules relating to there use on an ongoing basis. If you are facing a motor prosecution in connection with the usage of an E Scooter, please contact David Ollivere of our motor prosecution team to discuss further.
Posted on Aug 10th, 2021 by Anthony Heywood