E-scooters available for public hire in Gothenberg, Sweden

UK to legalise electric scooters despite 40 per cent jump in accidents

Image credit: Jonas Jacobsson | Unsplash

The private use of e-scooters has been legalised by the UK government, in a move aimed at improving road safety and lowering carbon emissions derived from transport.

The UK Government has unveiled plans to legalise the private use of e-scooters, despite a huge surge in the number of people hospitalised as a result of e-scooter accidents. 

The announcement was made during the Queen’s Speech, delivered by Prince Charles. 

A recent mass Freedom of Information request to all NHS Ambulance Trusts by the Major Trauma Group revealed that 82 per cent more ambulances were called to assist e-scooter related accidents in 2021, compared to the previous year. In total, the NHS attended 713 patients that had been in an e-scooter related accident in 2021.

Until now, e-scooters have been illegal on roads − except in specific trials – but their private use will now be regulated by new legislation, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed. Laws regulating the use of electric scooters are expected to be introduced in the 2022–23 session.

“The Government would then be able to stipulate that all e-scooters sold met certain standards concerning speed, power and lights, among other things," Shapps said. 

This move will reportedly allow the Government to "crack down on the illegal use on roads of non-compliant e-scooters.” However, Transport Select Committee member Simon Jupp pointed out there have been “900 collisions, 11 of which were fatal” in the e-scooter trials.

Major Trauma Group data also revealed that the number of e-scooter accident patients being referred to A&E increased by 40 per cent between 2020 and 2021, with 173 patients treated at the scene of an accident being taken to their local A&E facility during 2021 compared with just 124 during 2020.

In the last year, Northern Ireland and the North West saw the largest increase in the number of e-scooter accidents assisted by NHS ambulances, with 700 per cent and 200 per cent increases, respectively, between 2020 and 2021.

Trevor Sterling, Chair of the Major Trauma Group, welcomed the government's decision, stating that: “It is only when all types of e-scooters are subject to the same rigorous standard of safety that we will see a reduction in preventable incidents and less strain on the NHS."

Sterling also called for an increase in efforts to raise awareness of the rules that regulate e-scooter use, such as age and having a driving licence, stating that there are "few road users aware of the full criteria for legal use" of this mode of transportation. 

E-transport technology could be key in the UK's path towards net-zero, and many experts have hailed this move by the Government as a necessary step to ensure that the law holds e-scooters to a high standard of safety and helps lower greenhouse gas emissions that result from transport. 

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