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Electric scooters – economical and ecologically-friendly or dangerous, even deadly?

Emma Davison

Rebecca McLaughlin and Emma Davison, paralegal and solicitor at Minster Law, discuss the dos and don’ts of using electric scooters. 

We’re no experts and we’ve never used one, but hey don’t electric scooters look like a lot of fun.  They’ve been on our minds recently due to what seems like ever increasing press coverage. Their use has also become more popular following Covid and concerns about using public transport and the recent increases in the cost of fuel.

A full guide relating to the use of e-scooters was published by the Department of Transport on 13 July 2020 and was last updated on 31 March 2022.  Penalties for those who break the rules could include a fine, points on your driving license or the e-scooter could be impounded.  However, navigating the legalities of what you can and can’t do is a bit of a minefield, so to try and help, we’ve listed some of the main points below:

What you can do:

  • E-scooters should only be used within the local area hosting the trial
  • Ride rental e-scooters on the roads if you fulfil the obligations in the area running the government trial. For example, in the areas of London taking part in the government trial, you need to pass an online test and have a driving licence to hire them
  • Ride an e-scooter without a helmet, it is not a legal requirement
  • Ride them if you only have a provisional driver’s licence and must be at least 16 years of age. You do not need to display L-plates
  • Ride them if you have an overseas driver’s licence providing certain criteria are met.

What you can’t do:

  • Be used by more than one person at a time
  • Tow anything using one
  • Use a mobile phone
  • Ride privately-owned e-scooters in public places
  • Use e-scooters on private land unless you have the landowner’s permission
  • Ride on public footpaths
  • Ride them in a public space whilst intoxicated
  • Ride an e-scooter if you have an overseas provisional licence, learner permit or equivalent

E-scooters must have motor insurance, but this will be provided by your e-scooter rental operator.

Whilst supporters are in favour of the use of e-scooters helping to reduce carbon emissions, campaigners argue that accidents relating to e-scooters have increased since the introduction of the licensed hire pilot schemes.  Here at Minster, we’re seeing a rise in the number of e-scooter claims involving defendants on e-scooters coming into the business, so the guide and the forthcoming measures the Government is said to be planning to announce will become increasingly more useful. These measures include allowing private owners of e-scooters to legally ride theirs on public roads. However, strict safety conditions would be put in place such as speed limits and potential requirements for helmets and indicators.

Love them or hate them, it looks like they are around to stay. It’s just a case of ‘watch this space’ to see how the Government regulates them.