E-scooters: What’s the law?

Posted on Monday 15th November 2021 in News

Throughout 2021 the public have been informed of the e-scooter trials taking place across the UK, designed to help assessment of the benefits of e-scooter use and their impact on public space, the environment, and road safety. Numerous cities have been put forward by Local Authorities as participants in trials, where the use of e-scooters is heavily regulated and participant subjects to criteria restrictions.

As Sussex is not taking part in the trials, they remain illegal to use on the roads, in cycle and bus lanes, along with pavements.

So if you’re thinking about buying an e-scooter for yourself or a loved one in the run up to Christmas, SSRP are here to help clarify the current law surrounding the use of e-scooters in Sussex. 

Whilst e-scooters are not illegal to purchase, they are illegal to use in public. This means e-scooters can only be used on private land, with permission of the land owner.

Why is this?
E-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), and are treated as motor vehicles and subject to the same legal requirements, such as:

  • MOT
  • Licensing
  • Insurance
  • Drink/Drug drive legislation

As e-scooters do not have number plates, signalling ability and don’t always have visible rear lights, they can’t be used legally on the roads. Many privately owned e-scooters can reach speeds of up to 30mph and without noise from an engine, lights or other methods to alert road users of their presence, e-scooters can be a danger to both riders and other road users.

Sussex Police is issuing renewed advice to electric scooter riders that they too face arrest, prosecution, and having their item seized if they are seen using it in public in Sussex. There has been increasing public concern about road safety, with frequent reports of e-scooters riding on pavements and crime reports linked to e-scooters.

E-scooter riders are warned to expect further education and enforcement from both SSRP and Sussex Police in the lead up to Christmas, with officers carrying out proactive patrols as part of planned days of action on the issue.

Across the country there are ‘Future Transport’ trials taking place, with the aim of gaining further insight into the environmental, health, and safety benefits of these types of vehicles.

Sussex Police also seeks to highlight the road safety risks of using e-scooters. For example last month Sussex Police officers appealed for witnesses after a cyclist riding in a cycle lane in Lewes Road, Brighton, was seriously injured by an electric scooter rider going the wrong way.

Earlier in the summer a police officer sustained serious injuries to his hand after an e-scooter rider failed to stop when directed to do so.

The officer had been conducting a routine traffic stop when the rider collided with him. An 18 year-old man is due in court in November charged with causing grievous bodily harm, failing to stop when directed to do so by police, driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence, and using a motor vehicle without third party insurance.

Electric scooter riders may also be taking a risk with their own safety. Department for Transport figures showed there were 484 casualties in collisions involving e-scooters last year, of which 384 were e-scooter users themselves.

Last year, 17 people were injured in collisions in Sussex involving e-scooters. More recently a 54-year-old man tragically died from his injuries after he collided into a fence near Falmer railway station in June 2021.

What happens if stopped by Sussex Police?
If caught riding an e-scooter, fines you may receive can include:

  • A £300 fine and six penalty points for not having valid insurance.
  • A £100 fine and three to six penalty points on your licence for driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.
  • Other offences which may result in penalties include riding on the footpath, using a mobile phone, riding through red lights and drink driving offences.

For the full legal advice surrounding the use of electric scooters, please see Sussex Police’s online page here.