People without a driving licence who want to ride an e-scooter should be required to take a compulsory proficiency test, according to an organisation representing personal injury lawyers.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), a not-for-profit campaign group that seeks to represent people injured in accidents, has made the call as of part of its Injury Prevention Week initiative. It wants the measure to be introduced in the government’s planned new regulations that will legalise the use of private e-scooters on public roads.
At present, only e-scooters that are part of government-backed rental trial schemes can be used legally on public roads. To use those machines, drivers must be over the age of 17 and hold a driving licence.
Government data showed that the number of accidents involving e-scooters more than doubled last year compared to 2020, although it is understood the bulk of those incidents involved private e-scooter being ridden illegally. A Nottinghamshire woman was recently killed after being struck by a privately owned e-scooter than was being ridden on a pavement.
John McQuater, the president of APIL, noted that legalising private e-scooters would likely result in even machines taking to the roads of the UK, likely increasing the number of accidents further. “We’re using Injury Prevention Week to highlight what needs to happen to make e-scooters safe for everyone,” said McQuater. “This is not just about the riders, as a quarter of injuries involving e-scooters are suffered by pedestrians and other road users.”
The APIL has proposed a number of what McQuater called “forward-thinking measures” to improve e-scooter safety, which he said “could go a long way to preventing needless, and sometimes life-changing, injuries and deaths.”
Under the measures, the APIL wants private e-scooters to be limited to the same 12.5mph top speed as rental machines, with rules in place to prevent tampering with motors. The firm also wants a minimum rider age of 16, matching the regulations with the law for riding a moped.
“If someone does not already have a full or provisional driving licence, they should be subject to a compulsory proficiency test,” said McQuater. “Education and training about e-scooters should be included as part of the motor driving test. All road users need to be clear about safe passing distances and rights of way.”
The government will introduce rules to create a new class of powered light vehicles that will include private e-scooters as part of a forthcoming Transport Bill. It has also said that it will stage a public consultation as part of that process.