Electric Scooters: Fun or Fatal?

Following the tragic death of Youtuber and Channel 4 presenter Emily Hartridge on 14 July in a road traffic accident, the safety of electric scooters has been called into question.

Here Rob Dempsey, senior associate at Roythornes Solicitors, questions whether a lack of awareness e-scooters is to blame.

Electric scooters are becoming undeniably popular with more and more appearing on streets across the United Kingdom. However, these users are clearly unaware that e-scooters are actually illegal to ride on UK pavements and roads.

Thanks to their partial motor, e-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV) by the Department for Transport (DfT). This means they are subject to all the requirements of a motor vehicle such as MOT, tax and licensing requirements including visible rear red lights, a number plate, and signalling ability.

As e-scooters – which can reach speeds of more than 30 mph – do not have the necessary licensing requirements, they are not deemed safe to use on the road or pavement and are therefore only legal to use private land or property. Indeed, anyone caught riding an electric scooter is liable to face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points added to their driving licence.

Despite this, I think it’s unfair to point the finger solely at e-scooter use in the case of Emily Hartridge. Although Emily’s death was of course a tragic accident, as with all road traffic accidents there are a number of factors to consider – including the responsibility all road users have to fellow road users.

In this specific case, focus has been placed upon Highway England’s authority which has been criticised over the two laws that govern the legislation. These were made two centuries and 31 years ago respectively. But also, the confusing nature of this particular road layout where a cyclist also died last year.

The case – which marks the first UK fatality of its kind – has reignited the debate around e-scooter regulation in Britain as many European and American cities have embraced the electric scooter. Many have even introduced schemes that allow people to hire a scooter as you would with a city bike.

However, the debate for me simply highlights yet another category of vulnerable road users and the need to protect them better.

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