Electric scooters myth buster: Common misconceptions around e-scooters

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We look at the 7 most common myths about electric scooters

Electric Scooter

Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular and it's not hard to see why, they are a very cheap and eco-friendly way of commuting while offering an alternative to packed public transport in the post-covid pandemic era. 

E-scooters have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and could help to address pollution and congestion problems in cities. 

However, despite some legal trials of hired e-scooters, owning one and riding it on UK roads remains illegal, and there are misconceptions around speed, rental and charging points.

With so much confusion over what is and what isn’t legal with electric scooters, we thought we’d take a look at some of the 7 most common myths:

MYTH 1: It’s legal to ride electric scooters on public roads

FACT: If you own an e-scooter you can only use it on private land and not on public roads, cycle lanes or pavements. Parks and leisure facilities are also off limits for privately owned scooters. 

If caught riders could receive a £300 fine and three points on their licence for riding illegally.

The only e-scooters that can be used legally on public roads are those rented as part of government backed trials. Trial scooters can be used on the city’s road and cycle lanes, within approved trial areas, at a maximum speed of 12.5mph.

MYTH 2: You don’t need a licence to ride an electric scooter

FACT: To use an electric scooter from an official trial you need a category Q entitlement on your driving licence. 

A Category Q entitlement means you can drive a two-wheeled vehicle with an engine size no more than 50cc, and a maximum speed of no more than 15.5mph

Both full and provisional UK driving licences with categories AM, A or B include category Q permissions.

If you have a provisional licence, you don’t need L plates when using an e-scooter.

MYTH 3: You must wear a safety helmet to ride an e-scooter, and you must wear a fluorescent vest if you ride it at night

FACT: While cycle helmets and fluorescent vests are certainly recommended, they are not currently a legal requirement. 

However, it’s vital to be as road safety savvy as possible and the ‘be bright, be seen’ message applies just as much to e-scooters as any form of cycling or motorbiking.

MYTH 4: Electric scooters are safe to use

FACT: While electric scooters do provide an eco-friendly alternative to traditional modes of transport, the data surrounding them is still very limited.

In 2019 Youtuber Emily Hartridge became the first person in the UK to die when the e-scooter she was riding crashed due to an underinflated tyre.

The number of claims reported to Admiral has risen year on year, with 52 claims reported so far this year, compared to a total of 60 in 2020, and 11 for the whole of 2019.

However, these figures might not be a true reflection, as people could be wary of reporting collisions due to the scooters being driven illegally. 

MYTH 5: Electric scooters have a maximum speed limit of 6 mph

FACT: There is currently no law restricting the speed of personal e-scooters, but trial scooters have a maximum speed of 12.5 mph.

However, more than four illegal scooters per day are being seized by the Metropolitan Police with some able to reach speeds of over 40mph.

MYTH 6: Personal electric scooters need a charging point

FACT: Nearly all e-scooters use a standard mains charger which means you can easily recharge them from a power socket in your home.

MYTH 7: You can rent an electric scooter straight away

FACT: You can rent the operators' e-scooters through their mobile phone apps: Just download the app of your chosen operator, complete the registration process, verifying your age and driving licence, then complete the mandatory in-app training before your first ride.

If you are looking to rent an electric scooter, Government operated schemes now operate in more than 30 areas of the country, including Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester and London. 

Find out more about other forms of e-transport including electric bikes and trains in our roundup of electric vehicles.

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