GUIDE Dogs chiefs and police have joined forces to urge people not to buy e-scooters this Christmas.
It is currently illegal in the UK to ride a privately owned e-scooter in any public place – but they have become a common sight on footpaths and even on roads.
They also pose safety concerns for drivers and also pedestrians, especially those with sight loss.
Insp Jem Mountford of Warwickshire Police 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 the county.
But it it not just about the legal requirements.
Insp 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 per cent 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.”
Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership chair Philip Seccombe, is also concerned about the increase in e-scooter use.
“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.”
Research carried out on behalf of Guide Dogs also revealed that 12 per cent of respondents reported their mobility aid or cane had been hit by an e-scooter, ten per cent had been hit but not injured by an e-scooter and two per cent had already been hit and injured by an e-scooter.