Scotland Yard urged caution at the start of December, pointing out thousands of e-scooters have been seized by police for being driven illegally on public roads while three riders have died in crashes and at least 291 Londoners have been injured.
Ben Pepper, associate solicitor at law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, has now issued a New Year warning to new e-scooter owners who may be totally unaware of the road laws they must abide by.
Privately-owned vehicles can only be ridden on private land, not pavements or public roads, with penalty points, fines, and even driving bans handed out to those who flout the rules.
“Although they’re perfectly legal to buy, they’re illegal to ride on public roads and many e-scooter owners are completely unaware they’re breaking the law,” he said.
“Getting caught can mean a sizable fine or penalty points. Given that e-scooters have been labelled a ‘must-have’ Christmas gift, it’s likely we’ll see even more ridden illegally on our roads in the new year and more very serious collisions.”
Bolt Burdon Kemp has put together an online quiz to help e-scooter owners understand the laws they must abide by.
In early December, 20-year-old Jamal Musa Hassan, from Hillingdon, was fined £660 by a court and handed a six-month driving ban after he was twice caught on London’s roads driving an e-scooter with no valid insurance.
In a separate case, a 16-year-old boy from Islington was given six penalty points for riding an e-scooter without insurance, before he had the chance to apply for a driving licence.
“Confusion arises as the rented e-scooters which are part of the nationwide trials can be ridden on public roads”, added Mr Pepper, calling for greater clarity of the legal position for the public.
“It’s easy to see why people struggle to understand where they are allowed to ride their privately-owned e-scooter.
“Without clear laws which deal with the use of e-scooters, their safety and their insurance coverage, both riders and pedestrians will be at risk. Whilst e-scooters can offer huge environmental benefits, the law needs to be right before they can be rolled out nationwide.”
A trial of hired e-scooters is in operation across Camden, Ealing, Westminster, City of London, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Richmond, Southwark and Tower Hamlets, where riders must be 18 or over and hold at least a provisional driving licence.
The Met Police and Transport for London wrote to businesses in the run-up to Christmas to remind them of the laws around e-scooters. “It is really unhelpful that retailers, fully aware of the risks they are creating for the public, continue to profit from selling machines illegal for use on public roads without sufficient explanation and guidance”, said Commander Kyle Gordon, who is in charge of Roads Policing.
“This is leaving many with expensive seizures, fines and points on their licence.
“Private devices have, on occasion, proven to be highly dangerous; and we have been called to help many people who have been involved in collisions and ended up seriously hurting themselves or others.”