Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
E-scooters have been increasing in popularity in the UK, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. More and more people are keen to use them as a form of transport instead of using public transport or driving a car.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, there are a number of things you need to know before you ride your electric scooter on the roads. The law around electric scooters is changing rapidly in the UK, and it’s important to read up on the current rules and regulations.
Before you buckle on your helmet and jump on your e-scooter, here is everything you need to consider about the legalities of electric scooters in the UK.
What are the rules on electric scooters?
Currently, you cannot use either adult electric scooters or kids electric scooters on public roads, pavements, cycle lanes, cycle paths or in other public spaces. In the UK, it is illegal to use an electric scooter on public property.
You can still buy an e-scooter and use them on private property or land. However, these rules are experiencing a lot of pressure to change.
Since 2020, there have been UK government trials underway into the safe use of electric scooters as a mode of transport. If the rules change, this will bring electric scooter use in line with the use of electric bikes.
When and where can I ride an e-scooter legally in the UK?
While you can’t ride e-scooters on public pavements and roads, you can use electric scooters on private property in the UK. If you do not own the private property or land, make sure you ask for permission from the landowner first. As long as the land is privately owned and you have permission to use it, you’re free to use privately owned e-scooters.
Sadly, this means they aren’t currently the alternative to public transport that many are hoping for. However, this may change in the future.
The current e-scooter trials have been extended to May 2024. This gives Local Authorities plenty of time to assess the impact of having e-scooters on their streets.
Why are electric scooters illegal on public roads, pavements, and cycle tracks?
This is where things get a little bit more technical. As it stands, electric scooters are considered to be ‘Personal Light Electric Vehicles’ (PLEV). This means they are classed as mini scooters and are in the same classification as mopeds and other motor vehicles.
It all comes down to their maximum speed and the motorised nature of the vehicle. Under this classification, they require tax, licencing and an MOT. Also, as they are classified as PLEVs, they would need a rear backlight and number plate to be deemed safe for public roads.
Can we expect electric scooter laws to change in the future?
We may see the rules change on electric scooter use in the not-too-distant future. There’s currently a big push to allow people to use electric scooters on public roads and in urban areas. However, concerns have been raised following trials, and further data is needed to make a final decision.
Electric scooters offer a greener alternative to vehicles, especially in larger cities. As a result, they have been rapidly growing in popularity as a result.
Government electric scooter trials
The government is in the process of running several e-scooter trials around the country using rental scooters. These trials were set up to allow the government to define how scooter legalisation can be done safely. The trials are looking at usage information to work out how well-used electric scooters are and any safety risks or downsides.
These trials were increased in size due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as e-scooters are seen as an excellent alternative to public transport. The trials were initially set to run for 12 months from August 2020. However, local authorities participating in the current trials were initially eligible to extend the scheme until 30th November 2022, and then further until May 2024 – the current end date of the trial.
The E-scooters: The Road Ahead paper published in July 2022 goes into more detail about what data has been gathered so far.
Where are trial electric scooters being used?
E-scooter trials have been taking place in a number of different towns and cities across the UK, including Cambridge, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich, and the West Midlands. You can use electric scooters from these rental schemes on the road and in a cycle lane, as long as you follow all guidelines. They can’t be used on the motorway or the pavement.
Current safety rules for e-scooter use on roads
As part of the trials, there are some rules to follow if you’re using hired e-scooters. Some of these include:
- No more than one person can use an e-scooter at a time – you can’t carry passengers
- You can’t use your mobile phone while driving an electric scooter
- Do not ride while drunk or intoxicated – doing this means you may be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving offences
- Make sure any bags or luggage is carried safely and does not endanger you or anybody around you
- You can only use your trial e-scooter in the local area where the trial is being run
- Nothing can be towed using rental e-scooters
It’s likely that these safety rules will also apply if privately owned electric scooters are permitted for use on public roads. However, this may change in the future.
When are the results of the trial expected?
The initial trials were set to end in November 2022, but these have been extended to the end of May 2024. We should see some legislative decisions about the use of e-scooters on roads after this.
Electric scooters are being made legal in other countries, but some still have concerns over the number of incidents involving e-scooters.
FAQs about electric scooter laws
If you’re still unsure about the rules for electric scooters, we’ve gone over a number of FAQs below that could clear up any more questions you have.
Are e-scooters legal in the UK?
E-scooters are legal in the UK and can be used on private land but can’t be used on public roads or pavements. Trial e-scooters have been used across the country in specific locations to see whether privately owned e-scooters are safe to be made legal.
You can only use rental or hired scooters legally in certain locations. Using an e-scooter that has not been hired or rented is illegal in the UK. Doing so is against the law. You could face a fine, penalty points on your driving licence, and your scooter may be impounded.
A powered transporter, such as an electric scooter, cannot be used on public land. Powered transporters are anything that is powered by a motor and include e-scooters, powered unicycles, kids hoverboards, Segways, and go-peds.
Do you need insurance for an electric scooter?
Based on the electric scooter’s current classification as a PLEV motor vehicle, you would need insurance to use one on the road. There’s a chance this could change if they are re-classified.
Under current laws, you would need insurance to ride your e-scooter on the road if this is made legal. The rental e-scooters which are part of trials across the country have electric scooter insurance provided by the rental operator.
However, at the moment, you will not be able to insure an electric scooter as they are not road legal.
Do you need a driver’s licence for an electric scooter?
As with insurance, the current legislation would require you to have a full licence to ride an e-scooter on the road. If the trials are successful and electric scooters become road legal, you will need the correct licence for the type of vehicle. You’ll also be required to wear a helmet and other appropriate safety equipment.
People riding e-scooters as part of the trials across the country are required to have a license with a Q category entitlement. This is included in a valid full licence and a provisional UK licence for AM, A and B category vehicles.
If you hold a provisional licence, you currently won’t be required to display L plates while driving. Find out more information about driving licences for e-scooters on the government website.
What safety equipment should you wear when driving an e-scooter?
You should always wear a helmet while driving your electric scooter. When picking your helmet, make sure it fits your head correctly and is fastened securely. Helmets should also conform to the current UK legislation.
If you’re using a rental e-scooter in a trial area, make sure you wear fluorescent or light colour clothing. This is to ensure you are visible to other road users. Even if you’re using a privately owned e-scooter, it’s best to follow the same rules and practices.
How fast can an electric scooter go?
The maximum speed limit for an electric scooter in the UK is up to 15.5mph. Current trials for the legalisation of e-scooters have a maximum speed limit of 15.5mph which is the same as e-bikes. However, the max speed e-scooter riders can reach depends on which trial area they are driving in.
At Electric Ride On Cars, our electric scooters will reach speeds of between 10kmph and 25kmph, depending on the model you have. For example, our 350w adult electric scooters have a maximum speed of 15.5mph or 25kmph. Whether you’re looking for a new electric scooter or want to find out more about the law changes, get in contact with our team.
Discover the perfect electric scooter for your child
Learn more about electric scooters and which is best for your child below:
- 6 Reasons You Should Consider Owning an Electric Scooter
- Best Electric Scooters For Kids
- Age Range Guide for Kids Electric Scooters
- 4 Reasons Why We Love Kids Electric Scooters
- Kids Go Karts: The Ultimate Guide