E-scooters – what are the rules?
E-scooters, or electric scooters, are growing in popularity but there is a lot of confusion around where they can be used.
In July, rental e-scooters were made legal on roads in England to allow for a 12-month trial while the government review the legislation.
With more and more e-scooters for sale, being purchased and available to rent, see below for information that you need to know about electric scooters and some frequently asked questions.
Can I ride my e-scooter on the road?
A privately owned e-scooter can only legally be used on private land (in a garden or a field) and with the permission of the land owner.
In legislation, an e-scooter is classed as a powered transporter and treated as a motor vehicle and so fall under the Road Traffic Act. This means they are subject to all the same legal requirements as motor vehicles; MOT, tax, licensing, insurance and specific construction regulations. BUT, you can't register, tax or insure an e-scooter.
As e-scooters can’t currently meet these requirements, riding a privately-owned e-scooter on a public road, pavement or other public area is a road traffic offence.
What happens if I ride my e-scooter in a public place?
Any person who uses a powered transporter on a public road, pavement or other prohibited space is committing a criminal offence and can be prosecuted.
Some of the potential offences committed can include driving without a valid licence and driving without insurance. The penalty for driving without insurance is a fine of £300 and up to 6 points on your driving licence if you have one. Your e-scooter may also be seized under section 165 of the Road Traffic Act for being used without insurance. Even if you don't have a driving licence, points can be added once you have passed your test. New drivers can only receive 6 points on their licence in the first 2 years after passing so you could lose your driving licence.
If you are using an e-scooter in public in an anti-social manner, you can also risk the e-scooter being seized under section 59 of the Police Reform Act.
What are the rules for rental e-scooters?
Currently, there are government trials piloting use in certain areas of the UK (nearest one is in Slough) where rental e-scooters can be used legally, however riders have to hire the scooter from specific companies who will have provided the relevant motor insurance. Further details about the pilot scheme in Slough can be found here.
The rental companies will have their own policies for use of their e-scooters but general rules to be aware of are:
- You must be over 16
- You must hold a full or provisional driving licence endorsed with category q
- They can be used on public roads and cycle lanes but not on pavements.
- Only one person can use them at any time and they must not be used to tow anything.
- Riders are still subject to road traffic legislation around the safe use of vehicles including careless or dangerous driving, using a mobile phone whilst driving and using a vehicle whilst drunk or intoxicated.
It is still illegal to use privately owned scooters in public within the designated trial area.
Do I need to wear a helmet when using an e-scooter?
We strongly recommend wearing a helmet when using an e-scooter as they can travel at speeds of up to 15.5mph and a helmet is a simple way of protecting yourself from any injury. However, there is no legal requirement at present in the UK for a helmet to be worn.
The AA’s DriveTech and E-scooter operator Tier have launched an e-scooter theory test to educate people around e-scooter safety and responsible use. For more information please click here.
Watch the short video below produced by Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police about the regulations for using electric scooters.