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  • 43% of Brits cannot correctly identify where it is legal to ride an electric scooter in the UK
  • Only 25% correctly identified it was only legal to ride on private land
  • Google searches for the term ‘e-scooter online’ increased by nearly 12,900% in the three months running up to Christmas

 

43% of Brits cannot correctly identify where it is legal to ride an electric scooter in the UK, a new survey revealed.

In the poll conducted by BSB Solicitors, only 25% of people correctly identified it was only legal to ride on private land. Of those surveyed almost 20% said it was legal to ride an e-scooter on public roads, 10% said it was legal to ride on the pavement while 32% were not able to answer or said they didn’t know the answer*.

Legality:

An electric scooter, or e-scooter, is similar to a traditional children's scooter but has a motor attached. At present it forbidden to ride an e-scooter anywhere other than on private land with the landowner’s permission. Riders face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence. As the law stands, riding an e-scooter on the pavement is an offence against the Highway Act of 1835, while riding one on the road is an offence against the Road Traffic Act 1988 unless you have a driving licence, insurance, helmet, road tax, registration plate and lights – something the DVLA refuses to provide for ‘unroadworthy’ vehicles. Their safety has been discussed in the media following the death of television presenter, Emily Hartridge, who tragically died after her e-scooter collided with a lorry in south London in July 2019 [source].

Rising popularity:

E-scooters have become increasingly visible in our urban areas, including on roads and pavements. An e-scooter can be bought easily from online and offline retailers, cost between £115 and £1,200, reach speeds of up to 30mph and travel distances between 10 and 80 miles[source].

 Their popularity rise is also reflected in online trends. The number of monthly Google searches for ‘electric scooters’ was 135,000, and 14,800 for ‘e-scooters’- both rising 22% in the past 12 months*.

 The term ‘e-scooter online’ saw a 12,900% increase searches over the past 12 months*. Users searching with the term ‘online’ could be argued to be doing so with buying intent i.e. looking to purchase. The vast majority of these searches took place in September and October of this year, perhaps suggesting that e-scooters might be one of this year’s top Christmas presents. (*Source: keywordtool.io / Google).

BSB Solicitors partner, Jonathan Black, comments: “Following on from the popularity of drones, e-scooters are likely to feature high on the gift lists of many households who need to be warned that although affordable, it could be an extremely costly gift both in terms of the fines that are paid for illegal riding and the injuries caused.”

Top reasons why e-scooters are becoming more mainstream:

  • Cheaper price of batteries
  • Improve commuting experience
  • Cost of commuting
  • Alternative to cycling

Accidents:

Since the start of 2018 there have been more than 1,600 incidents involving electric scooters, hoverboards and Segways [source]. Although these figures do include reported thefts and non-crime incidents related to these vehicles, they also include accounts of highway disruption, road traffic collisions and other road-related offences. Unfortunately there is no individual breakdown for the number of e-scooter incidents alone. The data is also limited as it only includes responses from the British Transport Police and 27 out of the UK’s 45 territorial police forces.

What happens if you get caught riding an e-scooter illegally?

If a police officer stops you riding an e-scooter illegally, they may issue you with a warning, an on-the-spot fine or they may decide to prosecute. Should the latter occur, you may be required to go to court.

  • If points are added to your licence and you accrue more than 12 within a three-year period will automatically be disqualified for a minimum period of six months unless you are able to argue exceptional hardship.
  • Those who ride dangerously or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also be convicted of offences which lead to imprisonment.
  • If the incident leads to the injury or death of someone it can result in prosecutions for careless driving or dangerous driving, or causing death by careless driving or dangerous driving.

 

What does the future hold for e-scooters?

In the weeks following the death of Emily Hartridge, there was a notable crackdown on illegal e-scooter riding in London. One hundred people were stopped - most were given warnings but ten were fined[source]. Enforcement of the law seems to be haphazard, seemling only imposed when riding is particularly careless and causing obvious danger. Policing illegal riding of e-scooters is not high on the priority lists of most officers, and so it makes sense that authorities would prefer to review existing laws, rather than issue further clampdowns.

Whether or not the Department for Transport (DoT) has faced commercial pressure from robustly funded scooter sharing companies remains to be seen but it has however, said that it will spend £90million to test ideas to improve journeys. This includes reviewing and exploring e-scooters, along with other forms of micromobility to see if they should be allowed on our public highways[source], as disclosed in Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy.

And when demand also shifts, that’s when you know change is coming; in a recent survey nearly 40% said they agreed e-scooters should be legalised for use beyond private land[source]. After a bumper year for e-bike sales in 2019 (between 50,000-60,000 were bought) which are further forecasted to rise in 2020[source], there is no reason to believe why e-scooters wouldn’t follow a similar pattern, if and when the law is changed.

- Ends -

To view the full report: https://www.bsbsolicitors.co.uk/blog/e-scooters-law-uk/

Note to editors:

  • BSB Solicitors are specialist criminal defence, fraud, regulatory and immigration lawyers, providing representation and expert advice since 2002.
  • Based in central London BSB have developed a strong reputation for high-quality criminal defence work.
  • Founded by Jonathan Black and James Skelsey, who previously practised at top Legal 500 Criminal Law practices in London.
  • Follow BSB Solicitors on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates: https://twitter.com/bsbsolicitors, https://www.facebook.com/pg/BSBsolicitors.
  • *The online poll was conducted across 500 adults across the UK.
  • How BSB Solicitors can help: If you are to be prosecuted for riding an e-scooter illegally, or you are to face prosecution for a more serious offence involving an e-scooter, then is advisable to seek the representation of a solicitor. We have a great deal of experience in representing road traffic and other criminal offences.

 

For further information on BSB Solicitors, visit www.bsbsolicitors.co.uk or contact: Heather McKay

+44(0) 20 7284 9720 / heather@totally.group

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