Riding rental e-scooters on roads has been legal in England and Wales since July, as the government wants to promote different ways of travelling as the pandemic continues. But many people who rent an e-scooter may never have ridden one before and, if they’re ridden dangerously, they can cause serious and life-changing injuries.
So sadly, it may only be a matter of time before other road users and pedestrians are hurt by a rented e-scooter.
What safety risks do rental e-scooters pose?
Rental e-scooters present many new potential hazards for road users. For example:
- e-scooters aren’t equipped with mirrors or indicators, so riders can’t signal which way they’re going or see other vehicles coming up behind them
- riders may not always wear safety equipment such as helmets
- e-scooter lights aren’t as bright as bicycle lights, so they won’t be as visible at night as cyclists
- e-scooters may struggle with uneven road surfaces and defects
- riders could be thrown off while moving as they won’t be in a stable standing position
- e-scooters are much quieter than cars, so pedestrians may not always be aware of them, especially blind or partially sighted people
- people may ride e-scooters on pavements and weave between the pavement and the road without warning.
We should point out that rented e-scooters are insured by the rental company, so if an accident happens, you’ll need their details, as well of those of the rider.
Trials of e-scooter rental schemes are being carried out nationwide, as ministers believe they offer a clean and cost-effective way to get around. The government also hopes that if more people take up this option, fewer people will need to use public transport, and in turn make social distancing easier on buses, trains and trams.
But rental e-scooters also pose serious safety risks and have the potential to cause devastating road traffic accidents, serious injuries and even deaths. England has already suffered one high-profile e-scooter fatality, as last summer, TV presenter and YouTuber Emily Hartridge was riding one at a busy London roundabout when she was hit by a lorry.
What is the Law on E-Scooters?
You’re now allowed to ride a rented e-scooter on roads in England and Wales, but not on pavements. Anyone riding a rented e-scooter must also carry a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence.
Riders must be aged 16 or over and cannot travel faster than 15.5 mph. If you own a personal e-scooter, this can only be ridden on private land, not roads.
Sue Vanden, author of ‘Rental E-scooters – A New Safety Risk for Road Users’, is Partner, Road Traffic Accident Technical Manager at Simpson Millar and is based in Manchester.
This blog has previously appeared on Simpson Millar’s website.