According to The Highway Code Act 2023, cyclists, pedestrians and horses are still considered the most vulnerable on the road, but who and what else should we be looking out for when behind the wheel?
What is an e-scooter?
An e-scooter is a motorised scooter, powered by electricity. Although it can seem a bit odd to see a suited and booted commuter on a scooter, e-scooters are becoming popular commuter options for being speedier than walking, biking and sometimes busing in busy traffic. As well as, of course, being an environmentally friendly option.
But with more e-scooters hitting the road, accidents are becoming increasingly common. Last year, there were 1,349 collisions involving e-scooters, compared to 978 in 2021. And it’s not just the riders who are hurt. It’s estimated there were a total of 1,437 casualties in collisions involving e-scooters in 2022, with 429 seriously injured. Despite this, there’s been no amendments for e-scooters in the latest version of The Highway Code.
It’s important to note, e-scooter riders are just as vulnerable as cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. Of all casualties involving e-scooters in 2022, 1,095 were e-scooter users. And in some cases, e-scooter crashes have been fatal, with 12 people killed in 2022, 11 of whom were e-scooter riders - more than double the previous year.
Whilst there’s no new regulations on e-scooters, as a motorist, we can all take actions to be more aware of e-scooter users and protect them. Whether that’s by knowing how to protect yourself when you jump on an e-scooter, or knowing what to look out for when you encounter one on the road.
How can you protect e-scooter users?
For a start, drivers should apply the same principles as those put in place to protect the most vulnerable road users... For example, giving a 1.5-2 metre gap when passing. Road users must stay alert at all times and anticipate meeting e-scooter users. You know when you get that gut feeling that you’re going to meet a huge lorry down the most awkward of roads… listen to that instinct and always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Did you know, all you need to ride a public e-scooter is a provisional drivers licence? This means you’ll need to be prepared for a rider to not have the same understanding and experience of the road as yourself.
E-scooters users are often quite young, with 1 in 4 parents buying their kids one for presents, and so riders often have little to no experience of the road - some even without a full-licence. For example, don’t expect them to give way to the right at a roundabout or to look behind their shoulder before they turn into a junction. If you meet an e-scooter, imagine and behave like they have a big “L” plate written on them.
We’ve pulled together some important safety tips to take on-board, before you get on-board:
- Ride in the centre of your lane: This will make you more visible to other road users and also make it harder for vehicles to dangerously overtake you. Just as you would with a motorbike, it’s about riding defensively.
- Wear a high-vis at night: It’s really important to ensure you’re easily seen when riding in the dark. Without any reflective clothing, it’s likely that a car's headlights might not be able to spot you.
- Stick to legal e-scooters: Legal e-scooters are capped at the maximum speed limit of the road you’re on. They are also unable to go in “out-of-bounds" areas, which are dangerous to users - for example, motorways. These restrictions make public e-scooters much safer. Illegal, privately purchased e-scooters are unrestricted and therefore can be dangerous. When you’re not familiar with speed limits and road signs, it can be easy to accidentally speed or end up in areas that aren’t safe for you to ride in. Find out more on the difference between legal and illegal e-scooters.
- Always wear a helmet: It’s not currently a legal requirement to wear a helmet on an e-scooter in the UK, but it provides a vital amount of protection. Now they’ve never been “cool”, but they can be the difference between a minor injury and a serious or even fatal injury in the event of an incident.
- Obey traffic laws: Before you get on the road, you should have a good understanding of how it works. Have a read of The Highway Code and get familiar with the rules of the road. It may seem a little confusing at first, but it will make you a safer rider.
- Use bike lanes: If there’s an option to, use one - bike lanes are there to reduce the risk of a collision with motor traffic. E-scooters are allowed in bike lanes, and they’ll protect you from other vehicles by keeping you separate.
- Don’t use headphones: When being on the road, it’s important that you can hear what’s happening around you - whether that’s the warning sound of a train crossing gate closing or another car's horn. So don’t wear headphones and keep an ear out for danger or other road users trying to warn you.
At LV= we’ve just had our second bodily injury claim where the third party who was injured was riding an e-scooter illegally. With accidents and insurance claims against incidents involving e-scooters rising, it’s more important than ever to be alert and aware of the dangers. Make sure your insurance is up to date, and head to our website for more information.