This week is Injury Prevention Week, and this year the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), a not-for-profit organisation that has fought for the rights of injured people for over 30 years, has chosen to highlight the topic of e-scooters.
Rarely has this relatively new (but not as new as you may think) mode of transport been far away from the news headlines over the past few years.
It is perfectly legal to purchase an e-scooter in the UK for personal use.
It is still the case that it is illegal to use e-scooters on the road or in places set out for other road users, including on pavements and in cycle lanes.
So, in effect, the only place you can use the e-scooter that you bought is on private land, assuming you have the landowner’s permission.
Then, in 2021, the Government brought forward its plans to run a set of trials in selected towns and cities throughout England and Wales. The trials are run by licenced operators working in conjunction with the Government.
The original idea was that trials would run until the end of March 2022, but they were extended on two occasions and will now run until 30th November 2022.
An approved rental e-scooter may be used on public roads and cycle lanes in the town or city where the trial is being run.
Pros and cons of e-scooters
Our blog highlighted both pros and cons of electric scooter use. We suggested that some of the benefits of legalising the use of e-scooters include:
A reduction in congestion on the roads and improvements in air quality in busy urban areas as people turn to the use of electric scooters and leave their cars at home.
E-scooters are inexpensive by comparison to other forms of motorised transport and therefore offer an affordable means of transport to those from less wealthy backgrounds.
Electric scooters cut down journey times for getting around towns and cities.
They are a healthy means of transport for the rider.
On the ‘cons’ side of the equation, we highlighted issues that had been flagged up during the e-scooter trials, including:
E-scooters are being abandoned and left lying on pavements after use, thus constituting a tripping hazard and causing issues in particular for people with movement disabilities and poor eyesight.
There were issues with some scooters used to cause vandalism.
The police have complained of electric scooters being used to facilitate crime. Met Police Data shows that between 1st July 2020 and 30th April 2021, 574 offences were recorded where the suspect was riding an electric scooter.
From the point of view of road safety issues, possibly the most worrying aspect of all is the illegal use of e-scooters on pavements, which pose a very real danger to pedestrians.
Whilst outside the trials, it is illegal to use an e-scooter on public highways, many are being used illegally, with The Times reporting as many as 750,000 private e-scooters are already on the roads.
What is the latest position regarding e-scooter accidents and the legalisation of private electronic scooters?
The Department for Transport issued a report in May of 2022 on the numbers of accidents involving electric scooters and the casualties involved for 2021, which revealed:
1280 collisions involved e-scooters
There were 1359 casualties in collisions involving e-scooters
Of those casualties, 1034 were e-scooter riders
Nine people were killed, all of whom were e-scooter users
An estimated 390 people were seriously injured and 960 slightly injured in collisions involving electric scooters.
Sadly, since those statistics were released in June 2022, the news was received of the UK’s first pedestrian fatality from a collision with an e-scooter, when a 71 year old lady was knocked down on a pavement in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire.
During the Queen’s Speech in May 2022, it was announced that the Government plans to legalise the use of privately owned e-scooters on public roads, which could see as many as 750,000 electric scooters legitimately on the roads.
If the Government’s now officially stated aim of legalising the use of privately owned electric scooters is to be achieved, it is clear that stringent measures need to be introduced to help protect both other road users as well as e-scooter riders themselves. The road traffic accident casualty figures for 2022 saw a significant increase from the previous year’s e-scooter accident statistics.
With an estimated influx of three-quarters of a million more e-scooters on our roads in the near future, the potential for an exponential rise in casualty figures relating to e-scooter accidents is very real, unless strict safety measures are introduced and enforced. The Government intends that these should include:
Compulsory use of safety helmets by electric scooter riders.
The compulsory fitting on e-scooters of lights and reflectors.
It is to be hoped that these and further measures, including compulsory insurance for e-scooter riders, are in place by the time private e-scooters hit our roads in earnest.
Mooneerams are award-winning personal injury solicitors and experts in handling claims for road users who have been injured in road traffic accidents.
If you have been injured in an accident with an e-scooter that wasn’t your fault call Mooneerams on 029 2048 3615 or send your details to us by using the form on the right-hand side of this page, and we’ll call you back.