What is an e-scooter?

Two-wheeled scooters with small, electric motors.

Their popularity has grown and scooter-sharing schemes now operate in more than 100 cities around the world – including San Francisco, Paris and Copenhagen.

People can hire e-scooters, often using smartphone apps, in a way similar to city centre bicycle hire schemes.

Electric scooters are freely available to buy in the UK online and in stores, and they cost anywhere from just over £100 to more than £1000.

Are e-scooters legal in the UK?

Currently, you can buy one but you can’t ride it on a UK public road, cycle lane or pavement. Anyone who does is committing an offence.

The only place an e-scooter can be used is on private land, with the permission of the landowner.

At the moment, they are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), so they’re treated as motor vehicles and are subject to all the same legal requirements – MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction.

So, because they don’t always have visible rear red lights, number plates or signalling ability, they can’t be used legally on the roads.

The law covering e-bikes – which are battery-assisted pedal cycles – doesn’t currently cover e-scooters, but the government wants to regulate them in a similar way in future.

Normal scooters, those without motors, are not allowed on pavements or cycle paths – but they can be used on roads.

Can I be fined for using an e-scooter?

If you use a privately-owned e-scooter on any public road, cycle lane or pavement, you could get a £300 fixed-penalty notice and, if you have one, six points on your driving licence.

Are they safe?

Electric scooters can exceed 30mph (48.3km/h), although many are limited to 15.5mph (24.9km/h).

Television presenter Emily Hartridge is believed to be the first person to die in an accident involving an electric scooter in the UK.

There are no official tallies on global deaths and injuries, but there have been a number of studies:

The business news site Quartz reported in February 2020 that at least 29 people had died in e-scooter accidents since 2018.

The Associated Press estimated in June 2019 that there had been 11 e-scooter deaths in the US since Autumn 2018.

Researchers at the University of California found that hospital admissions involving e-scooters more than doubled between 2014-2018 in the US.

Some e-scooters have only a single brake, which makes stopping safely more difficult.

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