There’s a news story about e-scooters almost every day. Most recently, police have seized privately-owned e-scooters that were being ridden illegally on public roads. As it stands, only e-scooters in the rental schemes running in around 50 UK cities are allowed to be ridden in public. While it seems there is a gap in public understanding to be addressed of what is and is not allowed, change is in the air.
Speaking during a debate on e-scooter safety in the House of Lords in January, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Transport Baroness Vere of Norbiton said that the Government is considering options on how best to regulate privately-owned e-scooters.
The Bicycle Association estimated last year that 500,000 e-scooters are privately-owned. So, if the calls for legalisation come into fruition, we could have half a million new road users. It is essential that such a move is done thoroughly and properly, for the safety of all road users. The benefits of e-scooters are clear – they are eco-friendly and accessible - but it is impossible to ignore the growing number of casualties and injuries.
Last year there were 484 recorded injuries involving e-scooters. The people involved range in age from four to 82 years old. The data highlights that e-scooter safety is not just an issue for the younger generation who seem to be the key customers of the rental schemes, but for all road users.
One solution is proper education. It is fundamental that all road users have an understanding of how to use and be around e-scooters safely. This should be included in driver training and any subsequent awareness courses. E-scooter users who do not already have an existing full or provisional driving licence should be required to undertake a proficiency test, similar to a driving theory test.
It is sensible for all road users to have insurance in place to ensure that, if they become involved in a collision, those who are injured get the compensation they need. Insurance should be compulsory, though, for e-scooters, given the speeds which riders are able to achieve, and the distances that the vehicles are likely to be used to travel. Both factors increase the risk of causing serious injury, or worse.