According to the Department for Transport (DfT), “Powered Transporters” is a term used to cover a variety of novel and emerging personal transport devices which are powered by a motor.

For example, a “Powered Transporter (PT)” can be a device such as an electric scooter (e-scooter), Segway, hoverboard or powered unicycle. Electric pedal cycles are not classified with this group as they have separate regulations.

PTs are defined as motor vehicles and as such fall within the same laws (Road Traffic Act 1988 “any mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads”). To be compliant with the law they must be taxed and insured, a rider must have a licence and display lights and a number plate.

At present, separate to the e-scooter trials the devices that are sold in the UK do not conform to the above requirements, which in turn means they cannot be used on roads. Use of a PT on a public road or a prohibited space is a criminal offence and can lead to prosecution.

PTs can, however, be used on private land to which the public does not have access, without legal restrictions. The permission of the owner or occupier of the land must be obtained.

Media reports suggest that an estimated 500,000 e-scooters are being used illegally on roads.

Current e-scooter trials in England
Currently, as part of the green agenda, the government is running trials of rented e-scooters in selected areas across England. The participating areas can be found here.

Key facts about the trials:

  • Riders must have Category Q Driving Licence: meaning they can drive 2-wheeled and 3-wheeled vehicles without pedals with an engine size not more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine with a maximum design speed of no more than 25km/h (15.5mph).
  • Insurance is provided by the rental operator.
  • Protective clothing is recommended, but not a legal requirement. Recommendations include using a fastened and properly fitted helmet, conforming to current regulations. As well as wearing light coloured conspicuous clothing.
  • E-scooters can be ridden on-road and in cycle lanes in the local area hosting the trial, but not on the pavement/footway or on a motorway.
  • E-scooters do not need to be registered, display registration plates or pay vehicle excise duty.

Important information for users

  • Riders should always refer to the terms of use of the e-scooter operator before renting a trial e-scooter.
  • E-scooters must be used by one person at a time.
  • Riders must not tow anything using an e-scooter.
  • Riders must not use a mobile phone when using an e-scooter.
  • Riders may use a screen to display navigation information, but this must be set up before setting off.
  • Riders should always ensure bags or other small items being carried do not cause a danger to the user or others.
  • E-scooters must not be used while drunk or otherwise intoxicated. Users can be prosecuted under drink or drug driving laws as careless and dangerous driving offences also apply to users of e-scooters.

Collisions involving e-scooters
Recent data from DfT in 2020 identified 460 collisions involving e-scooters, resulting in 484 casualties (one fatal, 128 serious injuries and 355 slight injuries)[1]. More than 50% of all casualties are to e-scooter users themselves, who tend to be aged between 30 and 59 years and are predominantly male.

As the use of this form of transport is still in its infancy, collision recording practice varies across the country, therefore some discretion should be exercised when looking at current collision data.

Anecdotally it is considered that a high degree of under-reporting is occurring regarding non-fatal injuries involving single e-scooter rider collisions and this should be noted when analysing any data provided in respect of any PT collision data.

Road Safety GB’s position with regard to e-scooters
At present, Road Safety GB is monitoring developments and will analyse the findings of the current pilot schemes when they are published – currently due November 2022.

Should there be a move to make the use of privately-owned e-scooters legal in the coming years Road Safety GB will be urging Government to put safety at the fore when drafting legislation. In addition, there would be a key role for Road Safety GB to play in working with Government to ensure that e-scooters are introduced as safely as possible, both for the riders themselves and particularly vulnerable pedestrians including those who are blind and partially sighted, elderly and frail.

[1] Reported road casualties Great Britain: e-Scooter factsheet 2020

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