Over the last number of years, we’ve seen the rise of hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, and autonomous driving systems. To add to the electric revolution, electric scooters or E-Scooters are becoming an increasingly common sight on our roads and pavements even though it’s currently illegal to use an E-Scooter on public roads and public places in Northern Ireland.
E-Scooters and the Law
Whilst its currently illegal in NI, in GB as of 4 July 2020 the UK Government launched a trial scheme legalising E-Scooters with very strict limitations. In GB, you can ride E-Scooters on roads and cycle lanes but not on pavements, and only as part of a hire scheme in pre-approved trial locations.
The Department for Infrastructure (DFI) oversee E-Scooter regulations in NI and say their officials are monitoring developments in GB and in the meantime, the PSNI is responsible for enforcing current law in NI which makes them ‘illegal’
“The impact of E-Scooters on the safety of pedestrians and other road users has raised concerns across Europe. Here, enforcement is the responsibility of the PSNI, who have advised that they are taking steps to increase their response given the current increase in the illegal usage of E-Scooters.
Any decision on the potential use of E-Scooters here is a matter for the Minister for Infrastructure.
The Department for Transport have recently announced an intention to create regulations that will legalise E-Scooters in England. The regulations will take account of any recommendations from the current pilot schemes in England which are due to complete in November 2022.
DFI officials are currently monitoring developments INGB and following review will provide advice to the Minister on the way forward.”
As it stands in NI, E-Scooters can only be used on private land and cannot be used on public roads or footpaths. The only case where an e-scooter is permissible on a public road in NI is where it’s adapted as a legitimate motor vehicle and is fully taxed, insured, has lights, a number plate and the rider holds a full driving licence and is wearing appropriate safety equipment.
Unfortunately, the number of accidents involving E-Scooters has increased, with BBC reports that the number of ambulances called to deal with E-Scooter accident nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021 – from 392 accidents in 2020 to 713 accidents in 2021.
E-Scooters are virtually silent so are more likely to be involved in an accident and despite the advice, riders often do not wear helmets or protective gear. The scooters themselves can reach relatively high speeds of up to 26mph and have limited braking capacity. As the rider has limited protection on their E-Scooter, the injuries suffered when an accident happens can be serious.
E-Scooter accidents can occur in several ways including.
- A vehicle colliding with an E-Scooters at junction,
- A vehicle overtaking an E-Scooter rider,
- Dangerous road surfaces causing the E-Scooter rider to lose control,
- Unseen pot holes on the road,
- E-Scooter rider being hit by opening vehicle doors.
There are various injuries you may sustain if involved in an E-Scooter accident or you may be injured by someone riding an E-Scooter:
You might by injured by an E-Scooter rider whilst walking on a footpath, crossing the road or on a cycle lane, similarly, you can sustain injuries by tripping or falling over an E-Scooter that has been left on a footpath.
Common E-Scooter injuries include fractures, head and brain injuries. Regrettably, the number of fatalities is rising in line with E-Scooter use, with the BBC stating that nine deaths were reported across England, Scotland, and Wales in 2021
What to do in the event of an accident on an E-Scooter
- Seek medical attention
- Report the incident to the police as soon as possible
- If you are able to do so, obtain the names and contact details of any witnesses
- If you are able, photograph the accident scene and any damage to vehicles involved