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Private electric scooters will be legalized on UK roads but must have built-in speed limits

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People who have their own electric scooters will be legally allowed to ride them on public roads for the first time under a new transport bill introduced in the Queen’s Speech.

Existing laws only allow the rental of licensed electric scooters in a number of UK towns. It is forbidden for anyone with a private device to drive them on public roads.

The new legislation will allow electric scooters under strict safety conditions such as speed limits and, potentially, helmet and indicator requirements, Whitehall sources said. I.

The move will be welcomed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps as part of plans to cut carbon emissions. E-scooter travel has become increasingly popular due to the high cost of fuel and Covid safety concerns on public transport.

However, the plans are expected to be controversial; Activists claim e-scooter accidents increased by 40% between 2020 and 2021 following the introduction of licensed rental pilot programs.

A freedom of information request sent to all NHS Ambulance Trusts by the Major Trauma Group revealed that 173 patients were taken to A&E following an electric scooter accident in 2021, compared to 124 in 2020.

Some 82% more ambulances were called to help e-scooter crashes in 2021 than in 2020, the figures showed.

The largest increases were recorded in Northern Ireland and the North West of England.

Trevor Sterling, chairman of Major Trauma Group and senior partner at law firm Moore Barlow, called on ministers to introduce strict safety measures and said the public must be made aware of the new rules of the road.

He said: “E-transport technology is very exciting and will support the UK in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

“A change in the law to legalize the private use of electric scooters would keep electric scooters at a high level of safety and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, as well as reduce traffic congestion and to redesign streets away from cars We must prioritize educating road users about the changing nature of our roads to keep everyone safe.

“Only when all types of electric scooters are held to the same rigorous safety standard will we see a reduction in preventable incidents and less strain on the NHS.”

Meanwhile, an increase in fires linked to more electric scooters has been reported. Fires caused by lithium batteries have tripled between 2020 and 2021, according to figures from the London Fire Department.

Most lithium battery fires are caused by faulty equipment, using the wrong charger, or cells being left charging too long.

Alastair Thomson, property claims manager at insurance company Zurich UK, said: “With the number of electric scooters growing rapidly, we need to consider consumer safety at home, as well as on the road.

Safer Electric scooters

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“Lithium battery fires are already on the rise and it is essential that people know how to store and charge devices safely.

“Last year we saw multiple five-digit claims for battery fires that damaged homes and destroyed property. Lithium battery fires could become more frequent unless we do more to educate the public about the risks.

“We urge people to buy accessories from reputable companies, follow manufacturers’ instructions for charging, and avoid leaving batteries on charge when they leave the house.”

Paul Jennings, assistant fire safety commissioner for London Fire Brigade, said: “We have seen an increase in the number of fires involving e-bikes and e-scooters and it is essential that people are aware of the risks.

“These items are often stored and loaded in the escape routes of homes or common areas, so when a fire occurs, the escape routes are blocked, immediately making an already dire situation that much scarier.

“We know that lithium-ion batteries are prone to failure if incorrect chargers are used. Many of these incidents involve batteries that were purchased over the internet, which may not meet appropriate safety standards. »

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