Yesterday, the Irish Government published its Bill to reform and modernise road traffic legislation, which includes provisions to facilitate the use of e-scooters and other powered personal transporters (PPTs) and autonomous vehicles on roads in Ireland. The press release accompanying the Bill can be viewed here.
The approach to PPTs, when implemented, would move Ireland ahead of the UK in the widespread legalisation of e-scooter use. The Bill itself, the Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021, is a technical and difficult read but its explanatory memorandum states that the Bill will effect “an amendment to the definition for a mechanically propelled vehicle to exclude PPTs from its scope and so permit the use of PPTs without imposing the registration, tax, licencing and insurance conditions associated with conventional motor vehicles.”
Our sense of the current debate on e-scooter use in the UK is that the government could be likely to move in a similar direction once the e-scooter trials end next year. Following the approach in Ireland and amending the definition of motor vehicle in the Road Traffic Act 1988 would be an obvious way of achieving that.
Written by Alistair Kinley at BLM (email@example.com)
I was pleased to chair our e-scooters webinar on Monday and note that we had close to 200 logging on. Thanks to those who joined us, to colleagues from BLM who took part and to our events team for sorting out the online arrangements.
You can view a recording of the ‘E-Scooters: getting you up to speed’ webinar here.
Claims issues surrounding scooter use are at a very early stage – but cases are already out there – so we focused on exploring the rationale behind the government-authorised trials and the regulatory points that can’t be avoided once the trials have concluded next year. The awkward question of whether or not to legalise the more widespread use of e-scooters really will have to be addressed then.
We also examined some of the framework governing highway maintenance and inspection and how scooter riding might fit in. This is clearly a live issue for those local authorities currently hosting trials and could assume greater significance if the ban on the use of privately-owned scooters on roads was to be relaxed.
We received quite a few questions on possible options for insuring liabilities arising from scooter use, along with several about illegality defences and contributory negligence arguments.
As well as continuing the dialogue with those who attended on Monday, we plan to host a further webinar (or hybrid event) in the New Year, looking at the regulatory framework for e-scooters more widely. Please keep an eye out for details of that on our usual BLM channels.
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs firstname.lastname@example.org
E-scooters have attracted considerable press attention throughout the pandemic. Some see them as a clean transport solution to urban congestion and that is certainly among the reasons for the UK government introducing the current e-scooter hire scheme trials. On the downside, one source has estimated that e-scooters will be involved in up to 200,000 accidents this year (Nextbase, in July 2021) and others report they are used as getaway vehicles for criminals (perhaps displacing thefts/mugging by moped riders?). As well as these risks, there is also potential for new product liability litigation arising from defective scooters.