Guide Dogs joins Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership in asking the public not to buy e-scooters this Christmas
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Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership has joined with Guide Dogs to urge the public not to buy e-scooters this Christmas because it’s currently against the law to ride a privately owned e-scooter in any public place in the UK. There are also concerns for the safety of e-scooter riders and other road users including people with sight loss.
Inspector Jem Mountford said “Before you consider buying an e-scooter this Christmas it’s important to know that although you can buy one, it is illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter in any public space including roads, pavements, parks, town centres or canal towpaths for example. This means many people will be breaking the law if they use an e-scooter and could put vulnerable road users at risk.”
E-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) so they are treated as motor vehicles and subject to the same legal requirements such as MOT, licensing, tax and insurance.
As e-scooters do not have number plates, signalling ability and don’t always have visible rear lights, they can’t be used legally on the roads.
Warwickshire Police have legal powers to seize e-scooters and prosecute riders and between March 2020 and November 2021 31 e-scooters were seized in Warwickshire.
Whilst penalties for illegal use include a Fixed Penalty Notice for no insurance, with a £300 fine and six penalty points, officers will also be using Section 59 of the Police Reform Act to issue a warning to riders of e-scooters and educate them as to the legal requirements. If a rider is under 16 years old then this advice will also be given to the parents.
But it’s not just about the legal requirements.
Inspector Mountford continued “As well as being illegal, we have real concerns about the safety of e-scooters. The latest Department for Transport’s (DfT) Reported Road casualties Great Britain, annual report 2021 revealed that nationally there were 1,434 casualties involving e-scooters, including 10 people killed, 421 seriously injured and 1,003 slightly injured. This is a real concern.”
Alexandra Jones, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs said:
“The illegal use of private e-scooters has had a huge, negative impact on people with sight loss. E-scooters are heavy, powerful, silent and can reach high speeds. These characteristics, combined with the fact they are often driven on pavements, means they can have severe consequences for people with sight loss.”
“Guide Dogs research shows that nearly 75% of people with sight loss who have encountered an e-scooter have had a negative experience. Visually impaired people are already being forced to change their behaviour because of e-scooters, with some changing their regular routes and others not leaving home alone.”
Whilst some parts of the country are taking part in Government trials for e-scooter hire with a view to making them legal to use on the roads, Warwickshire is not currently part of the trials so e-scooters cannot be hired at this time.
Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership Chair and Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Seccombe, said: “As a Partnership we want to make our roads as safe as possible for everyone and this includes people with sight loss.
“We know e-scooters can be a hazard to pedestrians and other road users and put the rider at danger of death and serious injury when used on public roads, so please consider purchasing more appropriate alternatives.
“We are also extremely concerned that over half of people with sight loss have reported changing their behaviour due to e-scooters including not going to some parts of their town, changing their regular routes and shortening trips outside to reduce their risk of encountering e-scooters.“
“We are really saddened to hear this and will be doing what we can to support these vulnerable road users by clamping down on the illegal use of e-scooters and encouraging the public not to buy anyone an e-scooter for Christmas in the mistaken belief that they can be used in public spaces. “
Research carried out on behalf of Guide Dogs also revealed that 12% of respondents reported their mobility aid or cane had been hit by an e-scooter, 10% had been hit but not injured by an e-scooter and 2% had already been hit and injured by an e-scooter.
Councillor Andy Crump, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Fire & Rescue and Community Safety, said “It is our priority to make sure the roads are safe for everyone and that’s why we are urging the public not to buy an e-scooter at the moment but to await the results of the UK trials that have now been extended to the end of May 2024.
"Whilst we encourage a switch from cars to active travel alternatives, particularly for short journeys, there are other environmentally friendly options available that we are keen to promote and support and as part of this commitment we are looking at how we can make our town centres safer for cyclists and pedestrians. "
PHOTO: Left to right Insp Jem Mountford, WRSP Chair and PCC Philip Seccombe, Councillor Andy Crump and at the front Neil Rance, Senior Guide Dog Trainer with Guide Dog Charlie