Electric scooters - do you know the law?

Electric scooters - do you know the law?

Electric scooters are currently legal to buy in the UK, but illegal to use on public roads, pavements, cycle lanes, and pedestrian only areas.  However, while you can’t ride e-scooters on public pavements and roads, you can use electric scooters on private property in the UK. Also, it is legal to hire a rental scooter in some authorised areas. 

At present, the only e-scooters that are legal to use on UK roads are those taking part in government-approved rental trial schemes, which began back in 2020 to help gather data for the potential full legalisation of the machines. 

 The trials are taking place in the following areas:

London (with 10 participating borrows: Camden, City of London, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Westminster. Scooters can also be hired in Canary Wharf and ridden through the borough of Tower Hamlets and in the north of Lambeth)*

·        Bournemouth and Poole

·        Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)

·        Cambridge

·        Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)

·        Copeland (Whitehaven)

·        Derby

·        Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford and Colchester)

·        Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)

·        Great Yarmouth

·        Liverpool

·        London (participating boroughs)

·        Milton Keynes

·        Newcastle

·        North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)

·        Norwich

·        Nottingham

·        Oxfordshire (Oxford)

·        Redditch

·        Salford

·        Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)

·        Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)

·        South Somerset (Yeovil)

·        Sunderland

·        Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)

·        West Midlands (Birmingham and Coventry)

·        West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)

·        York

Rental e-scooters in the UK have maximum limits of 15.5mph (24.9km/h), although the most powerful privately-owned e-scooters can reach up to 68 mph (110 km/h). In certain areas where the trial is taking place, there are "go-slow areas", where the top speed is reduced to 8mph (13km/h) for safety.

Currently, e-scooters are recognised as "powered transporters" - falling under the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles, and subject to all the same legal requirements - MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction.

So, do you need a driving licence to use an e-scooter? With the current legislation, you would require you to have a full licence to ride an e-scooter. If the trials are successful and electric scooters become road legal, you will need the correct licence for the type of vehicle.  

People riding e-scooters as part of the trials across the country are required to have category Q entitlement on your driving licence. This is included in a valid full licence and a provisional UK licence for AM, A and B category vehicles. 

Do you need insurance for an electric scooter? You will not be able to insure an electric scooter as they are not road legal but based on the electric scooter’s current classification as a PLEV motor vehicle, you would need insurance to ride your e-scooter on the road if this is made legal.

The rental e-scooters which are part of trials across the country have electric scooter insurance provided by the rental operator. As part of the trials, drivers are required to wear a helmet and other appropriate safety equipment such as high visibility best. Drivers are also asked to complete an online course first before hiring them.

Current safety rules if you are using hired e-scooters include:

·        You can only use your trial e-scooter in the local area where the trial is being run.

·        No more than one person can use an e-scooter at a time – you can’t carry passengers.

·        You can’t use your mobile phone while driving an electric scooter. 

·        Do not ride while drunk or intoxicated – doing this means you may be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving offences.

·        Make sure any bags or luggage is carried safely and does not endanger you or anybody around you.

·        Nothing can be towed using rental e-scooters.

·        Ensure you refer to terms of use from the rental operator before hiring an e-scooter.

It’s likely that these safety rules will also apply if privately owned electric scooters are permitted for use on public roads. However, this may change in the future.

 So, what happens if I ride a scooter illegally?

·        you could face a fine

·        you could get penalty points on your licence

·        the e-scooter could be impounded

The Met Police said they will issue fines of £50 for riding on the footway, and £100 and six driving licence penalty points for using a mobile phone or riding through a red light. You can also get banned from driving for drink driving and e-scooter. 

The current legislation of e-scooters is changing, and it seems likely they will be re-classified. The government is planning to create a new low-speed, zero-emission category of vehicles as part of a new Transport Bill, which will allow for the full legalisation of private e-scooters on UK roads. However, the planned Transport Bill has been delayed. The initial trials for e-scooters were set to end in November 2022, but these have been extended to the end of May 2024. We should see some legislative decisions after this. Electric scooters are being made legal in other countries, but some still have concerns over the number of incidents involving e-scooters.

Do you need legal advice and/or court representation? We can help you. At Lucinda Dore Solicitors, we are road traffic specialists. Get in touch with us on 03332420691 or send any enquiries to lucinda@ldlegalservices.co.uk.

* Based on information on June 2022.