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.
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.