The use of e-scooters on roads is illegal and is banned anywhere except on private land. Whereas, normal scooters can be used on roads but are not allowed on pavements or cycle paths.
However, it has been widely noticed that the use and sale of e-scooters is on the rise with the increased popularity leading to the Government consulting on how they can trial scooter use on roads in a safe manner.
As a result, the Government has rolled out trials of e-scooters in more than 30 areas across the country including in Bournemouth, Cambridge, Essex, Nottingham, North Lincolnshire and many more. The rules under these trials only apply to those rental e-scooters that are being used as a part of the trials. This means that the normal rules for privately owned e-scooters still apply.
The Government stated that the purpose of these trials and the potential roll out of e-scooters was “to support a ‘green’ restart of local travel and to help mitigate reduced public transport capacity”.
E-scooters are seen to be a fast, clean and inexpensive method of travel which can “ease the burden on transport networks and allow for social distancing” in the current times we are living in.
The Government has published guidance for both users in the trials and local authority areas where the trials are taking place, all of which is easily accessible via the Government website.
The maximum speed for the e-scooters is 15.5 mph and trial e-scooters are limited to this speed, and in some areas they are limited to a lower speed. Users in the trials need to at least have a provisional licence but do not need to show L plates on the e-scooter if this is all they have. Insurance is provided by the rental operator and not the user and whilst helmets are recommended, they are not a legal requirement.
These trial e-scooters can be used on the roads and cycle paths but not on motorways or pavements.
The aim of these trials is “to build robust evidence about the safety, benefits, public perceptions and wider impacts of e-scooters in order to inform any legal changes that may be necessary after the trial period ends”.
The areas that will be evaluated during and after the trials includes the safety of e-scooters, the interaction with and effect on other road users, public perceptions of e-scooter use on public roads and the overall costs and benefits to society.
However, we are already seeing a large amount of public concern regarding the safety of e-scooters in public areas.
What are the concerns?
In February 2020, The Guardian highlighted that whilst advocates for e-scooters see them as part of the solution to pollution, congestion and overwhelmed public transport, safety campaigners (including cycling charities and head injury specialists) argue that users of e-scooters are vulnerable and should be separated from mainstream traffic.
E-scooters are a large part of normal life in many European and US cities however, a study in the US showed that there had been about 10,000 serious injuries a year with a 1/3 of these victims suffering head trauma.
Meanwhile in the UK, a mother has paid tribute to her son who died following a crash while riding an e-scooter. He was placed on life support after a collision with a car in Wolverhampton caused him to sustain various injuries including a fractured skull, two severed arteries, a broken jaw and punctured lungs. West Midlands Police are appealing for witnesses and therefore it is not yet known what caused the collision and if the e-scooter was being used within the regulations. This comes after, earlier this month, West Midlands Police said it was starting a month long operation to “tackle riders who break the law and put others at risk”.
However, it is not just the users of the e-scooters that are being placed at risk but pedestrians too.
Just last week, police in Paris were searching for two e-scooter riders after a pedestrian was killed. The victim was reported to have hit her head on the pavement and suffered a cardiac arrest. Emergency services were able to restart her heart and transfer her to hospital but she later passed away. This incident has renewed the conversation in Paris about their use of e-scooters, where there have been concerns raised over the safety of pedestrians.
It is clear that there is a serious conversation that needs to happen following these trials to weigh up the economical benefit of e-scooters versus the dangers and risks that they pose to both users of the e-scooters and other road users and pedestrians. One would hope that the Government would be able to find a middle ground whereby adaptations and regulations are made to make any roll out of e-scooters safe for all whilst maintaining the benefits that e-scooters provide to the environment and climate change.
The use of e-scooters – if you have been involved in an accident with an e-scooter that wasn’t your fault contact the Personal Injury team at Ringrose Law. Call 01522 561020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org