Calls for stricter road safety laws as e-scooters reach 50mph

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

E-scooters are increasingly being used by people as an answer to city congestion and fumes but campaigners are calling for the speed limit to be capped at 15mph.

However in the UK there are e-scooters that reach up to 50mph but what seems slow is the long-awaited Government regulation.

Dr Amy Kavanagh, who was injured when hit by an e-scooter, told ITV News the whole experience was "quite frightening".

She added: "It's extremely dangerous, it's not just visually impaired people, it's wheelchair users.

"What if you have a three-year-old that runs in front of you and then gets hit by a scooter?" she added.

Dr Kavanagh said she would like to see a maximum speed limit of 15mph for e-scooter riders.

Electric scooters can exceed 30 mph and are increasingly being used for short journeys in a number of countries, including many European cities, and the US.

Sales are booming and ITV News found several models which can reach top speeds including the Kaabo Mantis, that reaches 40mph.

The Wolf Warrior and Dualtron Thunder e-scooters are both capable of 50mph and the Nanrobot S7 with a maximum speed of 52mph.

Retailer Jason Brown is one of the first to sell fast e-scooters in the UK.

He told ITV News: "I don't encourage anyone to be breaking the law, these are specific to private land, this isn't a toy!"

He adds: "This is a powerful machine that has the capability to do 50mph."

  • Jason Brown explains some safety precautions to take when riding an e-scooter

Mr Brown also said the top level e-scooters also have around 40 safety certificates associated to it.

But Sustrans spokesperson, Rachel White, said there are many concerns on busy streets where pedestrians can get knocked down easily.

She said: "If you're going at speeds of up to 50mph, which some of these e-scooters that are being sold go, you have to question the safety of the people that are actually using them and come into contact with.

"It really pushes home the fact that we do need to look at this and we need to look at this very quickly."

E-scooter hire is hugely popular in dozens of cities around the world. Credit: AP

Riding an e-scooter on the road is against the Road Traffic Act of 1988 and on the pavement against the Highway Act of 1835.

E-scooters are classed as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), meaning their max speed and power is too low would need to be boosted in order to make them road legal.

Unless you have a driving licence, insurance, helmet, road tax, a registration plate, and the vehicle meets power and speed requirements, you could face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on your driving licence for riding on the road.

  • ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi tests out an e-scooter that can reach a top speed of 50mph

Analysis from ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi on 'fast e-scooters, slow regulation'

E-scooters typically travel at about 15mph, but models now being sold in the UK can reach 50mph.

It’s alarmed some transport campaigners who say the government has been too slow to regulate these vehicles.

The Department For Transport is currently reviewing policy on e-scooters - mainly because there is no policy.

A long-awaited consultation on what the new rules should be has not yet got underway.

E-scooters typically travel at about 15mph but newer models have higher speeds of up to 50mph. Credit: ITV News

Yet already e-scooters can be seen on roads around the country.

Under existing road traffic legislation e-scooters are banned from public roads, but many people see them as a potential green solution to urban congestion.

The government is under growing pressure to legalise the use of e-scooters on UK roads - but it raises complex safety issues.

Officials are considering whether there should be age limits for riders, should they be confined to cycle lanes, will helmets be compulsory, should there be legal specifications on wheel size and braking?

On top of all that is the thorny issue of speed.

Retailer Jason Brown is one of the first to sell fast e-scooters in the UK. Credit: ITV News

Those selling fast e-scooters say they are for off-road riding and that models at this high end of the market have additional safety features.

On the other side of this debate are safety campaigners who say these vehicles leave riders and other road users at risk.

For example, they say their small wheels make e-scooters hazardous when going over potholes.

As the arguments over e-scooters intensify, there is no doubt that a policy gap needs to be filled. Standby for this debate to hot up much more before the safety issues are finally resolved.