Electric vehicles, big and small are all the rage lately for several reasons, most notably because they are a highly cost-efficient way of commuting from A to B. But while most electric vehicles can be legally driven/ridden on UK roads such as electric cars, electric motorcycles with an appropriate class license, there’s a certain level of consumer uncertainty about the laws that apply to electric scooters.
Travel to any major tourist destination today – Brussels. San Diego. Bogotá, and you’ll see electric scooters zipping around through traffic signals gliding silently around city center streets, but even though they’ve garnered a surge of appeal worldwide, they’ve also incurred wrath from those annoyed with this tiny-wheeled transport revolution.
Current Laws Governing Electric Scooters
Laws regarding electric scooters vary across countries, but in the UK are classified by the Department for Transport (DfT) as Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV), hence are illegal to use on UK roads and pavements. Reason for this classification is that electric scooters are powered partly by a battery motor, so can only be used private property and land.
Another big reason why electric scooters can’t be used on the roads is because the DLVA requires all electric vehicles to be registered and taxed in order to be road-legal. However, because electric scooters fall under the PLEV category, their low max speed and power make them illegal for use on UK roads.
They cannot be used on footpaths either as stated by the Highway Act, unless you’re looking to park the vehicle. In terms of license, since electric scooters cannot be used on UK roads, there is no driver’s license or learners permit that can be issued for them. But on a brighter note, and because they cannot be used on UK roads legal, electric scooters are tax exempt, and do not require any registration or insurance.
Since they are classified as PLEVs, they are regarded as motor vehicles, so they must meet a certain set of requirements such as number plates, visible rear red lights, an signaling ability. But electric scooters do not have these, making them illegal to use on UK roads. And riders who do use them on UK roads currently face a £300 fine, and six points off their driving license.
Is the UK Electric Scooter Law Set to Change?
While police are clamping down on electric scooter use on UK streets, lobbyists from several electric scooter startups including Lime and Bird are pushing for reform. UK ministers are considering overturning a decades long ban on this class of vehicles, and looking into solutions to make them legal on the road possibly through a permit or licensing system.
The Department of Transport is working on a report on urban mobility issues, which includes car and bike sharing, self-driving cars, electric scooters as well as drones and internet connected vehicles. So, at the moment, you can ride electric scooters at your own risk, but it is not recommended as there is no insurance coverage, and will attract fines among other legal drama.