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Don’t rush to legalise e-scooters

There is a world of safety difference between e-scooter rental schemes and the use of private e-scooters, says the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). Any evaluation of rental trials cannot and should not be automatically applied to regulations for private e-scooters.

The safety of private e-scooters in the UK, an interim report from PACTS shows, that private e-scooters are unlike rental e-scooters in both their construction and use.

The report calls on the government to acknowledge that, while the evaluation of official trials may produce information on the safety of rental schemes, it will not sufficiently inform them about the safe construction and use of private e-scooters.

The Department for Transport may seek to legalise the private use of e-scooters in 2022.

David Davies, PACTS Executive Director, said: “Regulations on private use should be based on evidence of private e-scooter use – not on evaluations of hire e-scooters.”

There are around 20,000 regulated devices but an estimated 360,000 private e-scooters were sold in 2020 alone, and the number is likely to be close to 500,000 in use this year.

Despite being illegal to ride a private e-scooter in public places, they are increasingly being used in these spaces. In the first ten months of 2021, there have been at least nine deaths involving private e-scooters, and numerous serious injuries to both riders and other road users.

The PACTS report presents information from the police, insurers and leading NHS trauma surgeons.   Understanding the safety of private e-scooters is essential before regulations are drawn up. Evaluation of the government trials of rental e-scooters alone will not provide this information.

The full report, The safety of private e-scooters in the UK is available here.  PACTS continues to gather data for 2021, with a full report in early 2022.