Using e-scooters in public is not allowed in most parts of England and Wales, and users would be committing an offence if used on the road. However, Bristol and Bath are two of the cities which are part of a trial enabling residents to hire e-scooters from a reputable company.
The trial will allow the government to gather data on the safety and reliability of e-scooters as a method of transport, while letting residents experience travelling cheaply and efficiently via e-scooter, reducing their carbon footprint and helping the environment. With both Bristol and Bath also piloting the introduction of clear air zones in their city centres, e-scooters can provide a viable solution for many commuters.
Many e-scooter hire providers have made an appearance across the UK since the government introduced the concept of pilot schemes. But what are the rules governing the schemes, and what do you need to know if you are unlucky enough to be involved in a road traffic incident involving an e-scooter?
Is an e-scooter like a motorbike?
E-scooters are classified as “powered transporters” and are classed as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act 1998. If the trials end with a decision to allow their use across the UK, they will likely have to comply with the same requirements as other motor vehicles like cars, including an annual MOT, road tax and having a registration plate. Drivers would also need to be insured in case they cause an accident involving other road users, property or animals. Currently, however, this isn’t possible, and so they are only permitted for use on private land.
Companies providing e-scooters in official trials provide insurance and their e-scooters are otherwise exempt from the requirements of the Road Traffic Act. If you see one being ridden in a public place and there is no local scheme running, it is being used illegally.
Do I need a driving license to ride an e-scooter?
Under the official schemes users need to be over 18 and might also need to hold a provisional or full driving license to be able to rent and ride an e-scooter. Some areas also use an online course to check eligibility. If a parent lets a child use an e-scooter anywhere outside of private property (with the owner’s permission) they are liable to be prosecuted themselves.
Because e-scooters are legally the same as any other powered vehicle, their users can be held liable for causing accidents on the road the same way as if they were driving a motorbike or a car. This would include reckless driving behaviour and riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Tandem riding is also not allowed, as e-scooters used for the government trials are not designed to hold the weight of two people on them and doing so can affect the balance and functionality of their brakes. It may also invalidate the insurance from the scheme operator.
What should you do if you are injured by an e-scooter?
As with any accident on the road, firstly you need to contact the police on 101, or if needed, emergency services on 999. Then you need to exchange details with the other party be it pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes or cars and also report the incident to the company running the local scheme.
If you are involved in a collision with an e-scooter and suffer an injury as a result, a specialist solicitor may be able to help you to claim compensation for your injuries and any financial losses you may have sustained.
As e-scooter users outside the trial areas are unable to take out insurance your solicitor may need to check if the rider has enough money to cover your losses and legal costs out of their personal assets, and the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, which covers the costs of damage caused by uninsured drivers, may also be asked to pay you some compensation.
How Major Trauma Group can help
If you have suffered injury in an incident and wish to speak to a specialist solicitor about a potential claim, contact Major Trauma Group via email (email@example.com), telephone (0330 311 2578) or via live chat on our website (available Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm).
The Major Trauma Group is a not-for-profit community interest company, made up of leading law firms from across the country who, together with clinicians, have pooled their knowledge and experience to assist major trauma victims and their families through the provision of legal advice and ancillary services. Initial chats with our member solicitors, are free and without obligation.