Electric Scooters

Department for Transport written question – answered at on 20 October 2021.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) preventive measures and (b) sanctions are in place to ensure that e-scooters are used only within the law; what safety criteria must be met before e-scooters are judged fit for use; what data have been analysed in his Department on casualties resulting from the use of e-scooters on (i) roads and (ii) pavements in other countries; how and by whom the success or failure of UK experimental use of e-scooters is being assessed; and if he will list the (A) advantages and (B) disadvantages his Department has assessed will result from permitting the widespread use of e-scooters in the UK.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

In the UK, e-scooters are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988. However, as the law was not drafted with e-scooters in mind, it is not possible for an e-scooter user to comply with the legal requirements for motor vehicles, such as having appropriate insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets.

It is, therefore, illegal to use an e-scooter on a public road without it complying with these legal requirements. It is also illegal to use an e-scooter, not approved for use in trials, in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-riders. This includes on the pavement and in cycle lanes.

A range of offences may apply, including those relating to speeding and dangerous driving, drink and drug driving, as well as insurance and licensing. Users can be fined up to £300, have 6 points put on their driving licence, and the e-scooter can be impounded.

In 2020, the government permitted trials of rental e-scooters by introducing legislation for trials. To be eligible, local authorities and operators had to show how they would use controls such as geo-fencing, parking restrictions and driver licence checks. The Department for Transport provided guidance to e-scooter operators and local authorities which can be found on GOV.UK: www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-local-areas-and-rental-operators/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-local-areas-and-rental-operators

With regard to safety criteria that must be met before rental scheme e-scooters are judged fit for use as part of e-scooter trials, the Department established a set of vehicle design and construction standards and approvals requirements. These are also outlined in guidance to e-scooter operators and local authorities on GOV.UK.

The Department is continuously reviewing a variety of evidence on e-scooter related casualties from other countries. For example, the International Transport Forum (ITF) collated evidence on e-scooter fatality rates from various sources in its 2020 study on ‘Safe Micromobility’.

To assess the experimental use of e-scooters, the Department has in place a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation programme managed by our evaluation contractor, Arup. We will be publishing reports in autumn 2021 and spring 2022.

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