UK government advised to introduce mandatory helmets and a minimum age of 16 for e-scooters

  • March 27, 2022

ETSC’s member PACTS has set out its recommendations for private e-scooter use in case of legalisation by the UK government, following a nine-month research project involving hospitals, police, NGOs and industry representatives.

Rented e-scooters are currently legal in many UK cities, but private use is prohibited despite up to a million of the vehicles having been imported to the UK in recent years.  E-scooters are legal to buy – but their use is limited, in theory, to private land.  In practice most users are ignorant of the ban – or ignore it, and can face fines and confiscation of their e-scooter.  Injured riders of private e-scooters may also be reluctant to report a crash to the police for fear of punishment.  Underreporting of crashes is therefore likely to be a bigger problem for e-scooters in the UK than for other modes.     

Following its research, PACTS has published a comprehensive report looking at many aspects of e-scooter design and use which took into account research and experience from across the rest of Europe, where e-scooters are legal in most countries.

The PACTS recommendations are as follows:

  • Maximum possible top speed of between 10mph-12.5mph (16-20km/h)
  • Maximum continuous rated motor power 250 W
  • Anti-tampering mechanisms should be included in construction. Tampering should be prohibited by law
  • Maximum unladen weight of 20kg
  • Minimum front wheel size of 12 inches (30.5cm) and minimum rear wheel size of 10 inches (25.5cm)
  • Two independently controlled braking devices
  • Lighting to be mandatory at all times
  • An audible warning device to be mandatory
  • Helmet wearing to be mandatory
  • Rider age limit of at least 16 years
  • Riding on the pavement to be prohibited
  • Carrying of a passenger to be prohibited
  • Drink driving, dangerous or careless riding, and mobile phone use to be prohibited
  • In-person rider training recommended
  • e-scooters should be regulated as motor vehicles
  • Public liability insurance for riders recommended
  • The rider should inform the police if there is a collision involving an injury 

The recommendations come as several EU countries tighten up use of e-scooters. Belgium plans to introduce a minimum age of 16 and a ban on passengers and pavement riding in the coming months.