21 Sep 2021

E-Scooters: What’s Legal and What’s Not?

Police have seized over 3,000 e-scooters in England in the first six months of 2021.

That’s more than five times as many as they took in 2020, indicating the increasing popularity of using an e-scooter.

There has been a huge rise in the visibility of e-scooters in towns and cities, with Government trials of the devices being carried out to see if they can be implemented more permanently going forward.

Their environmental benefits, in comparison to gas guzzling cars and other road vehicles, make them an attractive alternative as Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to hit ambitious climate change targets.

The main issue, though, is a lack of knowledge on what is and isn’t legally permitted on the two-wheeled vehicles, with many failing to follow the rules by accident rather than design.

Where can I use an e-scooter?

E-scooters must follow the rules of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which means, among other rules, that drivers need to have a driving licence and suitable insurance to use them on the road; they are banned from pavements and footpaths.

Although government-backed trials mean you can use one of their e-scooters on public roads, you can only ride a privately owned e-scooter on private land, with the express permission of the landowner.

Why do e-scooters fall under the Road Traffic Act?

They are classed as ‘powered transporters’ and as such, with no specific laws and regulations currently surrounding e-scooters, they fall under the same requirements of any motor vehicle. That means MOT, tax and licencing are all considerations.

It’s also why you need a driving licence to use one, although you can operate one with a provisional licence and you don’t need L-plates to do so, unlike in a car.

Can you get fined for using an e-scooter?

Yes. The Met Police have already said they will issue fines of £50 for riding on a path, and a £100 fine, and penalty points on a licence, if the user is on their mobile phone or riding through a red light.

You can also be prosecuted for being over the drink drive limit while operating an e-scooter so it is important to remember these rules when considering hiring one.

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