Queen’s Speech change to legalise e-scooters on UK roads

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The regulation could set speed limits and requirements for lights and helmets to enable widespread use of electric vehicles

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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The regulations are expected to impose strict safety requirements for electric scooters, including speed limits, lighting requirements and possibly the wearing of helmets for users.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had previously told MPs that he wanted to “crack down on the private market and make illegal the sale of e-scooters that don’t meet regulatory standards”. He pointed out that once such standards are established, the rules could be changed to allow private scooters to be used on public land.

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E-scooter trials are already taking place in 30 UK cities

After the Queen’s speech, a Government spokeswoman said: “While driving a private e-scooter on public land is currently illegal, we are considering how best to shape future regulations and our Transport Act will help us take the necessary steps to E -Make scooters safer and promote innovation.

“Safety will always be our top priority and our trials help us better understand the benefits of properly regulated, safety-approved e-scooters and their impact on public spaces.”

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There are currently 30 trial programs running across the country. The scooters used in the trials are limited to 25.5 km/h and riders must have a driver’s license to hire one.

AA President Edmund King said e-scooters could be a positive element in greener transportation if managed properly. He said: “With e-scooters and other forms of micro-mobility increasingly appearing on UK roads, it makes sense that safety regulations should come first.

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“When rolled out alongside appropriate infrastructure, e-mobility could help bring about a positive change in greener, localized travel for both individuals and last-mile freight.”

Stricter regulation of e-scooters has been welcomed amid concerns about the rising number of injuries and accidents involving the vehicles.

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According to the government, one person was killed and 128 seriously injured in accidents involving e-scooters on public roads in 2020.

Data obtained by the Major Trauma Group of Ambulance Trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland also showed that 713 e-scooter-related accidents were attended to by NHS ambulances in 2021, up from 392 the year before. The data also shows that the number of patients referred to the emergency department after e-scooter accidents increased by 40% between 2020 and 2021, with 173 patients being referred to their local emergency department in 2021.

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Trevor Sterling, Chair of the Major Trauma Group, commented: “Only when all types of e-scooters are subject to the same strict safety standards will we see a reduction in preventable incidents and a lesser burden on the NHS.”

Martin Usher, a partner on Lime Solicitors’ personal injury team, said clear rules for e-scooters were a “step in the right direction”.

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He added comments on the legalization of private use of e-scooters: “We have to face the reality that transport is evolving and micro-mobility vehicles and e-scooters will be on our roads, for better or for worse. Legalization offers a major opportunity to enforce stricter safety regulations for personal e-scooters and improve education to ensure all road users have access to safe, environmentally friendly modes of transport.

“Private e-scooters are already being used on the streets, although it is illegal to do so, and these private vehicles can be modified to reach considerable speeds that those involved in the public trials will not allow due to a lack of regulation.”

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James Attwood, editor of consumer site Move Electric, said there is a desire among drivers for e-scooters to be legalized and properly regulated. “Our research found that nearly a quarter of drivers were already in favor of allowing the technology on the road,” he said.

“It is also clear that the public wants the technology to be properly regulated. More than three quarters of respondents who support the legalization of the technology want e-scooters to be limited to a top speed of 25 km/h and be equipped with an acoustic warning system. Likewise, 72.42% want them banned from sidewalks and only allowed on the streets to ensure pedestrian safety.”

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