A Précis Of The Current Law Surrounding e-Scooters
When it comes to e-scooters there are two important distinctions to be made: those that are privately owned and those that are rented. The law currently treats them very differently.
The difference is fairly binary. Rental e-scooters can be ridden legally on public roads whereas privately owned e-scooters cannot be ridden on public roads, though they may be ridden on private land. You can rent an e-scooter if your have a driving licence that allows you to ride category Q vehicles, so if you have a full UK driving licence or a provisional licence for categories AM, A or B then that should include category Q.
There is also a practical difference between rental e-scooters and privately owned ones in that rental e-scooters are limited to 15.5 miles per hour. Privately owned e-scooters can reach speeds of up to around 65 miles per hour, so if you see an e-scooter travelling at a high speeds on a road, the user is very likely to be riding illegally (and, therefore, without insurance).
Neither rental, nor private, e-scooters are permitted to ride on the pavement and are subject to a fine. E-scooters are not permitted on motorways or cycle lanes.
E-scooters require motor insurance and this is arranged via the rental company. E-scooters are a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads as defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and are, therefore, classed as a motor vehicles subject to compulsory insurance. You are unlikely get insurance for riding a private e-scooter on a public road. Insurance companies may, however, provide insurance for riding a privately owned e-scooter on private land.
Currently, the wearing of helmets is not a legal requirement when riding an e-scooter but it is recommended in the same way as it is with riding a bicycle.
The riding of e-scooters in public places is a developing area of law because the rental schemes are essentially controlled testing operations for the use of e-scooters and their experiences will shape the law relating to e-scooters in the future. However from a criminal perspective, in order to avoid a fine and/ or, points on your licence you should not ride a privately owned e-scooter on a public road and in 2020 there were 484 collisions with e-scooters which included at least one death and over a hundred serious injuries. Of course, whilst these penalties might be considered light by some, if you seriously injure or kill someone when riding an illegally ridden e-scooter the penalties can be considerably harsher, possibly including imprisonment.
From a civil perspective, if you injure someone whilst riding a rental e-scooter you are likely to have the benefit of the insurance that came with the e-scooter, and the injured party could seek redress via the insurance company. However, for the privately owned e-scooter without insurance an injured person may not have anyone worth suing to redress their losses, and the uninsured rider could end up facing a large legal bill and judgment for damages.George Ide