Thursday 18 August 2022
22 C

Christmas shoppers urged to think carefully before buying e-scooters

Police are encouraging people to think carefully about buying someone an electric scooter for Christmas as the recipient could end up on the wrong side of the law.

E-scooters are widely available to buy from retailers but it remains illegal to ride private ones in public areas, including on roads, pavements and pedestrianised areas such as town centres.

The only place a privately owned e-scooter can be used is on private land with the agreement of the land owner.

PC Phil Broughton, of Nottinghamshire Police’s roads policing team, said many people may not realise the potential consequences of riding private e-scooters in public, which include penalty points on their driving licence.

He also urged those wanting to ride an e-scooter to take advantage of the yellow Wind e-scooters that can be hired in Nottingham as part of a national trial, as these are legal to use in public.

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PC Broughton said: “People think it must be legal to ride private e-scooters in public because shops are selling them, but that isn’t the case.

“We want to get the message through that riding private e-scooters in public areas is illegal, so unless you’ve got ample land at your home address to use them, there’s no point in buying one.

“If you do want to ride an e-scooter in public, use one of the yellow Wind e-scooters that are available to hire as part of a trial scheme via Nottingham City Council, although be aware you must be aged 16 or older and hold at least a provisional driving licence.”

E-scooters are currently classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) so they are treated as motor vehicles and are subject to the same legal requirements as any other motor vehicle, requiring insurance and a valid driving licence.

PC Broughton is keen for Nottinghamshire residents not to fall foul of the law.

He said: “We understand that e-scooters are a tempting option for a Christmas present, but we would urge people to fully understand the law and the implications of using an e-scooter on a road or other public place.

“The safety of all road users is our priority and the last thing we want to do is to ruin a present by reporting a recipient to the courts and taking away a much-loved and expensive Christmas gift.”

Under current laws, anyone caught riding a private e-scooter in public without a driving licence can be fined up to £100 and receive three penalty points.

Those caught riding a private e-scooter in public without insurance face a £300 fine and six penalty points.

PC Broughton said Nottinghamshire Police had prosecuted e-scooter riders for a raft of offences in recent months.

He said: “We’ve had people drinking in pubs and then jumping on e-scooters. That is classed as drink-driving. We’ve charged quite a few people for that, as well as drug-driving.

“We’ve also prosecuted people for riding an e-scooter without having a driving licence, driving insurance, driving without due care and attention, driving through a red light, dangerous driving. Any offence that relates to a car also relates to e-scooters. You can end up with points on your licence and a hefty fine.

“It’s something a lot of people don’t realise and I think young people, in particular, need to be conscious of it. You could be 16 years old and get points on your licence from committing a driving offence while riding an e-scooter. At 17, they will go to buy a car and take out insurance – but their premium will be sky-high as they’ll already have penalty points on their licence.”

Although Nottinghamshire Police has prosecuted some individuals, the force has adopted a “engage, explain, and educate” approach, with enforcement as a last resort, when dealing with the issues around e-scooter misuse.

The policy has been created in line with the response being developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and is designed to create a consistent approach when dealing with offenders.

PC Broughton said: “We are happy to speak to people and take it case-by-case, but ultimately the law states e-scooters are motor vehicles and we won’t hesitate to prosecute if we need to. We’re trying to find the middle ground. We want people to be responsible and understand that you can’t ride private scooters in public spaces.”

He added there was a reason why the yellow Wind scooters were legal to use but private ones are not.

“The yellow Wind scooters are a lot safer,” he said. “Some private e-scooters can get up to 80km/hr and just think how small the wheels are. If you hit a pothole or a small bump at that sort of speed, not wearing a helmet, you’re going to be in trouble. Nationally, there have been some fatal incidents involving private e-scooters.

“The Wind ones are bright yellow, whereas a lot of the private e-scooters are black. From a visibility perspective, it’s clear which ones are better to use. We have had some incidents where e-scooters have been involved in collisions with cars for that very reason – visibility.”

More information on the law on e-scooters can be found here: E-Scooters
and The Law | Nottinghamshire Police

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