The UK Law on Scooters
Under the Road Traffic Act of 1988, e-scooters are categorised as “motor vehicles” and are subject to similar legal requirements as other motor vehicles in the UK. It’s worth noting that electric bikes rely on battery-powered pedals and are exempt from e-scooter laws.
According to the Department of Transport, an e-scooter is classified as a motor vehicle that is:
- Fitted with only an electric motor with a power rating ceiling of 500W;
- Cannot speed up to 15.5mph or carry more than one person;
- Not equipped with propelling pedals;
- Has only 2 wheels, hand controls and handlebars;
- Does not weigh more than 55kgs.
Trials are currently underway in different boroughs of various cities across the UK to assess the viability of e-scooters as a preferred mode of transportation. E-scooters are considered to be a more environmentally friendly and safer alternative to other forms of transportation. These trials will also help shape legislation on the use of e-scooters.
As part of the trials, citizens are able to rent government-approved e-scooters for commuting, provided they adhere to the rules and requirements set forth by the government. In London, specific regulations have been put in place for e-scooter trials, including mandatory training before the first ride, a maximum speed limit of eight mph, and the ability to use cycling infrastructure for e-scooters.
Risks of Using a Scooter
There are several risks associated with using scooters, including:
Accidents: Scooters are considered to be less stable than other modes of transportation, and riders are at risk of accidents caused by poor road conditions, reckless driving, or collision with other vehicles.
Injuries: Riders are at risk of sustaining serious injuries in the event of an accident. These injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, or spinal cord injuries.
Theft: Scooters are easy targets for theft, as they are often left unattended on sidewalks or in public spaces.
Legal issues: Depending on the jurisdiction, riding a scooter on public roads may be illegal, and riders may be subject to fines or other penalties. If your points add up to 12 in 3 years, you face a 6-month driving ban.
It’s important for riders to be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions to minimize them, such as wearing a helmet, following traffic laws, and properly maintaining the scooter.
Scooter Speed Limits in the UK
At present, the maximum speed limit for electric scooters in the UK is 15.5mph. It’s worth noting that many commercially available e-scooters have the capability to travel at speeds of up to 50-70mph, which requires caution and care when operating them. Additionally, certain rental e-scooters may have a maximum speed limit of 12.5mph.
These speed limits specifically apply to e-scooters being used on public roads as part of the government’s e-scooter trial program. However, the Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, which includes updated regulations for e-scooters, is anticipated to be enacted next year. This new legislation will likely provide more comprehensive guidelines, including revised speed limits.
37% increase in e-scooter casualties
On 24 November 2022 the Department of Transport published insightful statistics for casualties arising from accidents involving e-scooters. The statistics are based on national police reports for June 2021-22.
Durham and West Yorkshire lead the way with zero casualties
The figures reveal that both Durham and West Yorkshire top the list of places in the UK for the fewest road casualties—zero—involving e-scooters.
Lincolnshire and Staffordshire come a close second, with only one casualty each.
London claims nearly a third of total casualties
The Metropolitan Police reported the highest number of casualties, with the capital accounting for nearly a third (32%) of the national total.
The Nottinghamshire, Avon and Somerset police forces each reported 6% of the national total, leaving the Metropolitan force with a highly unenviable first place.
Frank Rogers, a specialist driving solicitor serving clients in England and Wales commented on the findings.
“It’s true that e-scooters are growing in popularity, and that’s understandable as many people see them as a convenient and greener form of transport. However, last year’s headline figures are a cause for concern—a 37% increase in collisions involving scooters, including 12 fatalities. It remains to be seen how the figures from the Department of Transport’s most recent report will affect public policy. My team and I will keep a close watch on this area for any announcements.”