Half of Brits Don’t Think E-Scooters Are Safe

They’re meant to be a fun and eco-friendly way to get around cities – and e-scooters are a big hit in the UK. E-scooter trials are currently ongoing in 32 areas across the UK, in everywhere from Somerset to Sunderland, and Halfords have reported a 184% rise in sales year on year. We’ve reported before about how UK law prohibits the use of privately-owned electric scooters on pavements and public roads, but these electronic vehicles are still prevalent across UK towns and cities.

As more and more cities embrace e-scooter trials, there have been a rising number of e-scooter accidents, often with tragic and fatal outcomes – so are Brits worried about the rise of e-scooters? To find out what the public really think, we surveyed 1500 Brits over the age of 18 to reveal their thoughts and opinions on e-scooters, and the results are telling.

Almost half of Brits (47%) don’t think that e-scooters are safe, and 60% of people think that they will cause more accidents. There are lots of concerns about the future of e-scooters, and the issues they could cause – find out what our research revealed about Brits’ thoughts on e-scooters.

E-Scooter speed limits

Rental e-scooters trials across the country have a maximum speed of 15.5mph, but the most powerful privately-owned e-scooters can reach speeds of up to 68mph – which perhaps explains why a significant 76% of Brits think we need to impose a speed limit on e-scooters. 60% of Brits also think e-scooters are more dangerous than bicycles, perhaps because average cycling speeds in the UK are between 12-15mph – well below the high speeds a privately-owned e-scooter can reach.

E-scooter licenses and tests

It remains effectively illegal to use a privately-owned e-scooter on any public road, pavement, cycle lane or in a public space, and they can only legally be used on private land. Nevertheless, e-scooters are still sold on the high street and online, and the lack of oversight may explain why 70% of Brits think E-scooters should be regulated by the government.

Though you do need a license to drive an e-scooter from an official trial, a provisional license gives you the license needed to drive an e-scooter – no test needed. Given the lack of oversight, and the potential danger of e-scooters on roads, it’s not surprising that 64% of Brits think that there should be a test before you can ride an e-scooter.

An e-scooter left on the street as part of a public trial.

Do e-scooters pose a danger to pedestrians?

While e-scooters are illegal to use on pavements, nevertheless, our survey revealed that Brits still have major safety concerns about the risk of pedestrian accidents. The majority of Brits (56%) don’t feel safe walking down the high street with e-scooters, and three-quarters (74%) of Brits don’t think e-scooters should ever be allowed on pedestrian paths.

One of the benefits of e-scooters is their eco-friendly nature – but their electronic motor, which is great for the environment, means that they run very quietly as well as very quickly, which is a real potential hazard for pedestrians. In particular, there are concerns about the impact on people with disabilities, especially as lots of e-scooters are illegally used on pavements which are already full of potential hazards for anyone with mobility issues, partial sightedness or a hearing impairment.

In fact, the Royal National Institute of Blind People have openly expressed concerns about e-scooter trials across the country. Even with the 15.5mph speed limit, they consider e-scooters to be a “real and genuine threat to the ability of blind and partially sighted people to move around independently and safely”. The British public overwhelmingly agree – 73% of Brits think that e-scooters should have audio warnings for people with disabilities.

It shouldn’t be overlooked that using e-scooters unsafely and illegally also poses a huge risk to the driver – there have been an unfortunate amount of fatal accidents for people driving e-scooters on busy roads. While the Met Police recommend that helmets should be worn while riding an e-scooter, this isn’t enshrined in law in the same way it is for motorcyclists. But 81.48% of Brits think you should have to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, to protect drivers from serious harm.

Views on e-scooters across the UK

Despite more than thirty ongoing trials of e-scooters in UK towns and cities, half of Brits think e-scooters should not be allowed in city centres, and the cautions and concerns are clear to see in places where e-scooter trials are taking place.

In the cities where e-scooter trials are underway, there’s a lot of public caution – 61% of people in Nottingham believe that e-scooters should be government regulated. Liverpool, allows e-scooter hire for £1 unlocking fee, plus a 20p per minute fee – and though the carbon-neutral scooters are capped at speeds of 10mph, with an extra cap of 5mph in busy areas, the sight of e-scooters on the road seems to have instilled a sense of caution in Liverpudlians: 80% pf people in Liverpool think you should wear a helmet riding an e-scooter.

It’s a similar story in London, which launched its own e-scooter trial in June 2021, but has seen plenty of e-scooters illegally driven on roads around the capital. The Daily Mail reports Met Police officers recently seized more than 100 e-scooters that had been driven illegally, contributing to serious injuries to riders and pedestrians. Perhaps it’s not surprising that three quarters of people in London think that there should be a speed limit imposed on all e-scooters.

Top tips for staying safe on e-scooters

Whether you’re using a public trial e-scooter or a privately-owned e-scooter on private property, you should always follow some basic safety tips. Here’s how to make sure you stay safe when riding an e-scooter.

1. Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times

It’s easy to get overconfident on an e-scooter. If you get a notification, it’s tempting to take a hand off the wheel and glance at your phone screen – but taking a hand off the handlebars can change your balance point, and easily lead to accidents!

2. Always wear protective equipment

It’s easy to think that because public trial e-scooters don’t go above 15mph, you won’t need protective equipment. But you can’t control other drivers, or account for human error on busy roads. You should always wear a helmet at the very least – it could be the difference between life and death.

3. Inspect your scooter before you ride

You should always check the battery, tire pressure, and brakes every time you hop on an e-scooter. Running out of charge at a busy intersection or riding on underinflated tires could cause a serious accident.

4. Don’t double up on an e-scooter

E-scooters are made for one person – there’s not enough room on standard electric scooters for two people, but that doesn’t stop people from riding tandem. E-scooters have a set weight limit, so if you’re over that limit and crash, you’re likely to be liable!

How can we help?

E-scooters are clearly a concern for the British public, and as their popularity continues to rise, pedestrians and motorists across the UK will continue to have plenty of apprehensions about their safety. We are experts in personal injury compensation and road traffic accidents, so if you’ve been involved in an accident with an e-scooter, get in touch for expert advice and find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. For more of the latest guidance and information, head to our blog for more news