Using e-scooters could help the UK reduce its carbon footprint, but many safety aspects like speed limits and insurance need to be considered before they are legalised on UK roads

The Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) has welcomed an inquiry into the safety of electric scooters (e-scooters) looking into whether the micromobility vehicles should require insurance.

Glyn Thompson, member of the motor sector focus team at the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) and technical lead motor at Weightmans, told Insurance Times: “Lockdown has left a sense that things need not be the same.

”The realisation of the benefits of home working and video conferencing – from air quality to road safety, cost saving, and loss of commuting time make this the ideal time to capitalise and revolutionise how we ‘get about’ going forward.”

Earlier this week an inquiry was launched by the Transport Select Committee into the safety of e-scooters to determine whether they should be made legal.

MPs will investigate the potential consequences of using e-scooters on UK roads exploring whether the micro mobility vehicles might help reduce traffic congestion.

It is considering introducing a minimum age requirement to legally use them, whether compulsory insurance is necessary and if a speed restriction should be in place.

But a decision on this is not expected till 2021.

The inquiry precedes the governments obligations to reach net zero by 2050, and follows the death of a TV presenter and YouTube star Emily Hartridge using an e-scooter – the first fatality in Britain of this nature – last year.

Last month the Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation calling for evidence on whether micro-mobility vehicles should be incorporated into the UK’s transport strategy and to what extent, this will close on 22 May.

Not the same

Thompson added: “Coupled with the Transport Select Committee’s enquiry into the benefits of such vehicles, which welcomes written evidence until 2 June 2020, it seems this issue is now at the forefront of UK government thinking as we head out of Europe, into a full term of parliament and now, unexpectedly into the post-covid-19 era.

“Micro-mobility vehicle use has grown exponentially in the last decade with little accompanying guidance or regulation on construction, use or insurance provision. These vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, are potentially used by all within society and are already used illegally on pavements, cycle tracks and roads, occasionally with tragic consequences. Now is the time to put things in order.”

Thompson added that the two initiatives call for views on how permitted vehicles must be constructed, for example, whether they should have handles, brakes, and lights, as well as who may use them in terms of age restrictions and where they should be used.

“Those within the transport and insurance industries should take the time to read chapter two of the DfT’s paper and respond to both invites,” he said. ”As every other major European country already regulates these vehicles, it is inevitable that they will become part of our future cityscape.”

The UK remains the last major European economy where the use of e-scooters are banned everywhere apart from private land with land owners permission.

Reducing UK’s carbon footprint

At the time of the e-scooter inquiry announcement, Transport Select Committee chair, Huw Merriman MP, said: “Electric scooters could be a useful lever to reduce our transport carbon footprint, but their environmental credentials have yet to be proven. These ‘powered transporters’ could reduce the amount of time we spend in cars and reduce congestion but we don’t want to score an own goal by encouraging the use of micro-mobility vehicles instead of walking and cycling.

“Road safety is a significant consideration. We must consider the dangers to other road users and especially pedestrians with visual impairments or those who use mobility aids and rely on clear pavements. Safety must also be a factor for riders of e-scooters.”

Merriman said that the committee would like to hear from manufacturers about the design and build of e-scooters.

“The public may have views on whether there should be specific vehicle or user requirements,” he said. ”Are e-scooters something good and positive that will take traffic off the road - one part of what the Department for Transport describes as a ‘transport revolution’? Let’s see if those who respond to our inquiry agree.”

In the UK, e-scooters are classified as a “powered transporter” and are covered by laws that apply to all motor vehicles, including the requirements of the Road Traffic Act 1988 on road tax and technical safety standards.

Read more…e-scooter legalisation - an untapped market for brokers?

Not subscribed? Become a subscriber and access our premium content