Sophie Hamilton Senior Associate
Are you fully aware of the legal implications of using an e-scooter?
Last week I read on Bristol Live, the Bristol Post’s online news site, that accident and emergency departments in Bristol treated 90 e-scooter accident victims in just May and June this year. Their treatments are reported to cost on average £1000 per patient.
Bristol is one of four trial cities for 20,000 rentable e-scooters across England; the others are Birmingham, London and Cheltenham. As a specialist injury solicitor, I currently have injury claims involving e-scooters as I am sure do other law firms who specialise in personal injury claims and litigation.
A recently published report ‘The safety of private e-scooters in the UK’ by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport & Safety (PACTS) makes for sobering reading.
As I have discussed previously, under current law privately-owned e-scooters are classed as motor vehicles and are therefore illegal to use on roads or in public places without a driving licence and, crucially, appropriate insurance. As such insurance is not available to purchase, only those rental e-scooters which are officially part of the trials in England can be ridden legally.
The report notes that it is estimated some 360,000 private e-scooters were sold in 2020, with sales only increasing in 2021. The vehicles are likely to be a popular Christmas present again this year, especially with children, which raises significant safety concerns.
The PACTS report notes that whilst it is very difficult to obtain accurate information, in the first ten months of 2021 there have been 9 recorded deaths and other casualties involving e-scooter riders and other road users.
These are overwhelmingly from head injuries and falls which did not involve another vehicle. As with riding a bicycle, wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement for riding an e-scooter, although it is strongly recommended.
I would strongly advise anyone thinking of purchasing an e-scooter privately, particularly for a child, to thoroughly research the risks involved and the legal position before they make a decision.
When renting, again give careful consideration to the safety advice and consider wearing a helmet. Bear in mind that you are driving a vehicle. Any breaches of road safety laws, such as driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or allowing a child to ride in your name, may result in you accruing points on or even losing your driving licence.
If the worst does happen and you are injured in an accident involving an e-scooter, please remember we are here to provide specialist help and advice.