Transport Minister Rachel Maclean recently announced new regulations which came into force Saturday 4 July 2020 allowing trials of rental e-scooters schemes in 50 sites across the UK.
Transport for London (TFL) recently renewed its call for the review of e-vehicles – or to give them their proper name Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) – including e-scooters, with a view to introducing legislation to make it legal to use these increasingly popular modes of transport on public roads and pavements.
With regulations changing, many people might be tempted to buy their own scooter but riders beware, privately owned scooters are still illegal to ride on public roads and people need to know where the law stands before taking to the streets.
Thomas Pertaia, Legal Advisor, DAS Law, has the legal low-down on e-scooters.
Is it legal to purchase a PLEV, such as an e-scooter or e-skateboard, in the UK and where can they be ridden?
The law states that the purchase and the ownership of e-scooters and e-skateboards is lawful in the UK. However, whist they are freely available to buy, their use is extremely restricted and is essentially limited to private land with the landowner’s permission.
PLEVs are essentially afforded the same treatment as motor vehicles meaning they are not permitted to be ridden on pavements. Due to the nature of e-scooters/e-skateboards they cannot be taxed, insured, and will not pass licensing and construction requirements. Therefore they cannot be driven on public roads.
Will the law change regarding the use of PLEVs in the near future?
An ongoing campaign has been in the pipeline for quite some time now, the Department for Transport wants e-scooter rental schemes tried out across England, Scotland and Wales. The e-scooters would be hired and could be used legally, within certain areas. It would also mean riders wouldn’t need to take out their own personal insurance to hire a scooter, but they would need a driving licence or at least a provisional driving licence.
These trials have just begun and the government states it will monitor the scheme over the year, as part of a plan to invest in greener travel.
Am I legally required to wear protective gear, such as a helmet, if I use a PLEV and what are the legal implications if I injure someone whilst riding a PLEV?
Whilst it is generally advisable to wear protective gear, there is no such legal requirement when riding e-scooter/e-skateboard on private land. Riding an e- scooter or skateboard on the road is a criminal offence. If you injure someone you could be liable for criminal prosecution as well as a civil claim for personal injury.
What does the law saw about damage to property from someone riding a PLEV?
Depending on the circumstances you could be liable for the damage caused due to your negligence.
What is the penalty for riding a PLEV on the road/pavement/cycle lane? If I have insurance, would the policy cover the penalty?
Hired e-scooters are only to be used within any of the trial areas. If you were to use them outside of the set areas, you could be fined. You could get a £300 fixed penalty notice and six points on your driving licence, if you have one. The penalty and fine would be the same should you use a privately owned e-scooter on any public road, pavement or cycle lane.
If I get injured from riding a rental PLEV, and I am covered by insurance, will the rental company be automatically liable?
E-scooters used in the trials need to be covered by a motor insurance policy – It is understood that rental operators will ensure a policy is in place that covers the users of the vehicles. A minimum of third party cover is required by operators as motor insurance requirements are still in place. This does not essentially mean that the rental company will be automatically liable as with other insurance policies circumstances around the event would be taken into consideration.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.