When it comes to electric scooters and UK laws and regulations there is a lot of uncertainty. The UK is one of the last countries in which people are not allowed to ride electric scooters on the public streets. So, people are wondering, are British people allowed to buy an electric scooter? Yes, they are. And here comes the uncertainty.
How come British citizens can buy electric scooters without being allowed to use them? Where can they ride their electric scooter? And what about electric scooter sharing?
To clarify all those points, we decided to produce an article dedicated to the topic. Here is anything you need to know about electric scooter law in the UK, and find out if electric scooters are legal in the UK.
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The growing popularity of electric scooters in the UK
The uncertainty surrounding electric scooters law in the UK hasn’t prevented the popularity of these new means of transport to grow in the country, just like it has happened in all of Europe. The consumption of e-scooters in the UK has followed the trend that has been observed in the rest of Europe. At first, its popularity has grown thanks to electric scooter sharing platforms, that allow people to rent a device for a short amount of time. However, because of e-scooters’ portability, ease of use, and sustainable quality, more and more people in the UK have begun purchasing their own.
The market adjusted accordingly to this new popularity of electric scooters, releasing new more powerful, and affordable models. But, has the UK law done the same?
UK law concerning electric scooters
In the UK it is allowed to buy and sell electric scooters so sellers, buyers, and anyone who owns an electric scooter isn’t breaking any rules or UK law.
So, are electric scooters legal in the UK or not? Well, electric scooter owners can’t ride their devices on public streets, but only on private ones and with the permission of the owner.
Why is that so?
When you use a transporter on your private land, you don’t need to have any insurance or a valid license to do so. Basically, you can ride or drive anything you want in your private yard, and that includes your electric scooter. But, when powered transporters – and electric scooters are classified as such – are driving or riding on a public street, they are covered by the same legislation as motor vehicles; therefore, they need to be registered with the DVLA, taxed, and being insured.
This is why the UK law only permits electric scooters – that are not insured, not taxed, and not registered with the DVLA – to be only ridden in your own property or that of someone you know and gave you the permission to have fun on their land. However, things seem to be about to change.
Is the UK law ready to change?
It seems like so, even though without the pandemic changes would have certainly been faster.
The UK Department of transport has long noticed the growing popularity of electric scooters and the benefits of such a sustainable means of transport.
As the transport minister has noticed, electric scooters aren’t only a sustainable and cost-effective solution to travel, but they could also help ease the burden on the traffic network of some areas like London. With the pandemic hit, electric scooters also provide a green solution for social distancing, providing commuters with an easy and affordable alternative to the crowded buses and metro.
So, what are they doing in this regard? UK DFT has been working with local authorities to launch electric scooter sharing trials in the UK territory.
If the trial will turn out to be successful, we could soon start seeing electric scooters across UK public streets with legislation similar to the ones we are seeing in the rest of Europe.
Rental companies will be selected and trialed in dedicated locations. But, where and where are these trials taking place?
Some trials in Liverpool, Cambridge, and other towns have already taken place. A new trial which will involve three electric scooter rental companies will take place in London this spring. In all these trials, rental companies need to guarantee certain safety features and parameters. It’s likely that these parameters will be part of the final legislation for electric scooter circulation in the UK.
These trials are also useful to understand what are the mandatory requirements that riders must meet to be allowed to rent a scooter during the trials today, and circulate on public roads with their electric scooters tomorrow.
Riders must be at least 16 years old
Riders must hold a driving license, provisional or full
Riders can’t ride on payments or motorways. Electric scooters are only allowed on the roads or cycle lanes
The speed limit for electric scooter is 15.5 mph and some areas may also be limited to an even slower maximum speed
Electric scooters must be covered by motor insurance
The rules of dangerous or careless driving also apply to e scooter riders.
Wearing a helmet is not mandatory even though it is highly recommended.
The rules concerning electric scooter circulation may be customized for specific towns. Therefore, they may vary. If you’re riding your electric scooter in the UK or renting one, check the local rules to avoid any bad surprises.
These rules are the ones that apply to trials today, but the free use of electric scooters, rented or owned, on public streets hasn’t been allowed yet. This means that if you’re caught riding your own electric scooter on public UK streets today, you’re going to face some consequences.
You could also face consequences for the misuse of a rented electric scooter during trials. Let’s see what these consequences are.
Misuse of electric scooters: consequences
If you are caught riding your own electric scooter on a public street you could:
Received £300 fine;
Have six points on your driving license;
You could also have your electric scooter confiscated.
When riding a rented electric scooter during trials, you’re supposed to respect the rules we’ve described above. If you don’t, you could be subject to fines or penalty points.
The rules we described are the specific ones for electric scooters, but you also need to respect any other traffic rules, like stopping at red lights, not using the phone while riding, avoid pavements, respect speed limits, and others.
The “don’t drink and drive” rule also applies to electric scooter riding. The penalties if you’re caught drunk on your electric scooter can be very severe: two-year ban from driving and community orders. The truth is that riding your electric scooter while being drunk is just as dangerous as driving cars or any other vehicle while being drunk, so be responsible and don’t do it.
Are electric scooters safe?
With UK legislation being so slow in allowing electric scooters on the streets, also wanting to perform trials before opening the city traffic to these new means of transport, many are wondering whether electric scooters might be dangerous. Is this the reason why UK legislation seems so reluctant to approve the final electric scooter permission in the country?
Since electric scooters Aren’t yet allowed on UK streets, To have an idea about how dangerous these vehicles are four riders and the surrounding road users we need to take a look at data from other countries the USA have been the country Where electric scooters First became popular so they are the country with the highest number of E scooters on their streets. So let’s take a look at US data and studies.
According to a study conducted by Quartz in February 2020, 29 people have died in an accident involving an electric scooter since 2018.
The Associated Press estimated that from Autumn 2018 to June 2019 there have been 11 fatal accidents involving electric scooters.
What about injuries? According to the University of California, hospital admissions resulting from an accident involving an electric scooter doubled since 2014, but this is also due to the growing popularity and use of these means of transport.
However, if we take a closer look at the data, we realize that these accidents aren’t due to the electric scooter being a dangerous vehicle, but rather to other vehicles involving the E scooter in the accident.
In the UK there has been one death due to an accident involving a person on an electric scooter. The person who was riding a rented electric scooter was hit by a truck.
More than electric scooters being dangerous, it seems like UK legislation wants to make sure that UK roads are safe for riders before letting them ride freely.
Despite the slow development of UK legislation, the green light to electric scooters on UK streets on UK streets shouldn’t be too far because everybody is recognizing that they are too much of a precious contribution to cleaner air and lighter traffic. That’s why it’s likely that electric scooter circulation will be soon legalized in the UK just like in the rest of Europe.