E-scooters – How safe are they?
Following the recent launch of the e-scooter trials across Milton Keynes, Personal Injury Lawyer, Navdip Gill, looks at some of the latest news surrounding the use of Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) and the impact they are having with regards to accidents in the UK.
So, what are the regulations surrounding e-scooter usage, and how confident are we that these are safe for both the user and pedestrians alike?
What are the rules?
There has been some confusion around the use of e-scooters with many people questioning whether they can be used on footpaths or roads in the area. In fact, there are different rules governing rental scooters compared to privately owned scooters.
Rental e-scooters are allowed on minor estate roads, cycle lanes but will continue to be banned from pavements. They are not permitted on grid roads or any roads with a speed limit of more than 30mph. The Rental e-scooters have a maximum speed limit that can go up to 14.8mph and are subject to MOT, tax and licensing. Riders must be aged 18 years or over and hold at least a provisional driving licence, motorcycle or moped licence and it is recommended they should wear helmets. We also discovered in one of the providers T&C’s that there is a weight limit of 220lbs (15.71 stones) and it is not permitted to carry any passengers. If you do so, then the insurance provided by the hire company will be void, leaving you personally liable in the event of an accident.
Milton Keynes Council confirmed in a recent press release that rental e-scooters are permitted on the redways.
Legislation regarding privately owned e-scooters is far more complicated. These scooters cannot be used on pavements, cycle lanes, redways or public roads and anyone who does is committing an offence and risks the penalties of a £300 fine and six points on their driver’s licence. Even if you don’t have a driving licence, points can be added once you have passed your test. So technically, you can only ride privately owned scooters on private land , otherwise if you cause an accident on public land you will be personally liable.
To put it into context, the average cost of a head injury claim can be in the region of £200,000 plus legal costs on top, which can amount to a further £100,000.
How dangerous are e-scooters?
Unfortunately, some users of these e-scooters don’t think about the hazards they are creating when they park irresponsibly, making it difficult for pedestrians and other people with disabilities to pass. These quiet vehicles also pose an issue as it is difficult to hear them approaching.
In the US a Neurosurgical team conducted a study from Sept 2017 to November 2018 (15 month period) to look into the metropolitan areas where a dockless vehicle pilot programme had been permitted, and it clearly showed there had been a rapid growth in skull fractures and spinal cord injuries.
Traumatic brain injury costs the UK economy about £15 billion a year, and is the leading cause of death and disability in the under-40s. It is now classed as a global epidemic. Unfortunately, in July 2019, the UK saw it’s first electric scooter fatality when the TV Presenter, Emily Hartridge was thrown into the path of a lorry in South London.
More worrying is the recent news article by leading Neurosurgeon, Christopher Uff, who mentions how e-scooters are responsible for a growing number of serious injuries to both riders and pedestrians brought into the Royal London Hospital where he works. Furthermore a number of pedestrians who have been knocked over by e-scooters on pavements have suffered injuries ranging from broken bones to skull fractures.
It is important local authorities together with the Police need to enforce these regulations with tougher penalties for those flouting the regulations to ensure the safety of pedestrians. E-scooters are great for the environment but they also represent a danger to vulnerable pedestrians and there must be greater education for both to co-exist especially on overcrowded pavements.