E-scooters are seemingly around every corner at the moment, with their rapid rise in popularity fuelled by the government’s ongoing trials in several cities around the UK.
Research from our friends at MORE THAN shows that over two in five (42%) Brits have used an e-scooter over the last 12 months, and it’s easy to see why, given the potential benefits of this new mode of transport. For many, they offer a convenient and eco-friendly way to travel shorter distances, while also helping to ease congestion on the road.
However, while many use e-scooters safely and within the law, unfortunately there are instances where they are being used unsafely and illegally. Shockingly, our research shows that over four in five Brits (83%) have seen e-scooters riding along the pavement, which is illegal, while nearly a third (31%) say they have witnessed an accident involving an e-scooter colliding with a car or pedestrian.
Consequently, two in five (40%) say that they feel more anxious when there are e-scooters on the road.
Why is this the case and what can be done to improve safety?
As e-scooters are a relatively new mode of transport, the rules around their use are in their infancy. The government is carrying out trials to learn more about them and is due to decide next year if and how e-scooters should be made legal in the future.
This is a reasonable short-term approach to assess the impact of e-scooters and determine what regulation is appropriate. However, it also means that there is a lack of clarity around the current rules, at a time when people are starting to use e-scooters and familiarise themselves with what they can and can’t do.
Considering how prominent e-scooters have now become since the launch of the government’s trials, they have arguably outgrown the existing arrangement. If the government does wish to legalise e-scooters, there is a need for a clear regulatory framework to ensure they are used safely.
Further clarity is required in areas such as age requirements, power limits, licensing and the mandatory wearing of helmets. This would help to improve road safety, while also making it easier to police the use of e-scooters and help prevent accidents.
Additionally, insurance also needs to be considered so that, if anyone is unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident caused by an e-scooter, they can access compensation for the damages or injury caused.
E-scooters and insurance
Currently, e-scooters rented through the government’s trials include third-party insurance, but it not yet known whether e-scooters will require insurance if they are legalised beyond the trials in the future. Additionally, those who currently use privately owned e-scooters on public roads – which is illegal – are likely to be uninsured.
Anyone affected by an accident caused by an uninsured e-scooter may struggle to access compensation for any damage or injury they sustain, so it is important that the government considers introducing insurance requirements if they choose to legalise e-scooters in the future.
At RSA, we’re ready to work alongside the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the government to understand the options for the regulatory framework around e-scooters. Once we know what these rules will look like, the industry can start to consider designing appropriate insurance solutions that will meet the needs of owners and riders in the future.