Written evidence submitted by Road Safety Support (RSS).
Who is Road Safety Support?
RSS is a 'not-for-profit' organisation that works to reduce the number of those being killed and seriously injured on the roads. The organisation’s primary aim is to save lives whilst delivering justice to those who contravene the road traffic laws.
RSS was founded in 2007 and we work currently with the majority of Road Safety Partnerships and Police Forces in the UK. We employ a team of leading road safety specialists to provide support in all aspects of casualty reduction activities. Our services include support with speed and red-light traffic enforcement, motoring offence prosecutions, enforcement technology, expert witness reports, advice on road line markings, signage and Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) issues, data analysis, media and marketing. We also act as a central hub for sharing best practice and ideas.
We assist the Home Office with the Type approval process for speedmeter devices, ensuring that enforcement technology used in the UK is accurate and reliable, to protect the public and the reputation of those enforcing the law.
We are also a UKAS accredited test laboratory, gaining ISO17025. Very few organisations in the world have obtained accreditation for the same specific use. One of its uses is to assist police forces to prevent legal challenges on the calibration of speedmeters etc., so the enforcement authority can have confidence in robust evidential trails.
We are extremely proud that over the years we have helped to bring hundreds of offending motorists to justice and we have been involved in a number of high-profile court cases. We work with many other countries too through our international arm, Road Safety Support International (RSSi).
RSSi have assisted a number of organisations to develop robust and effective road safety strategies that support communities. One of our founders and Managing Director, Trevor Hall, is a special advisor to the National Highway Safety Committee and the National Transport Safety Administration both in the US.
In 2017, we were delighted that the hard work, dedication and commitment of all of the staff was recognised when RSSi was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Each individual who works for the organisation has one focus: that is, to reduce the number of people being killed needlessly on the roads.
For more information on our organisation please visit www.roadsafetysupport.co.uk
The majority of Police Forces and Road Safety Partnerships will have access to our Members’ Area.
Our considerations for the Transport Committee’s perusal.
E-Scooters have been on our radar for some time, so much so that we had to issue legal guidance and advice to our members, Police Forces and Road Safety Partnerships, regarding this matter. The below and may be of assistance in covering the area of legislation. As you will note, there have been a number of court cases involving e-scooters and collisions with members of the public. The outcome of these cases may assist in shaping your own conclusions.
“We have seen a notable increase in people riding around on the latest range of personal motorised vehicles. E-scooters (also called micro scooters) are typical examples of 2-wheel electric powered transporters.
You could describe electric powered transporters as a range of lightweight, powerful, personal transport devices. Most are mechanically propelled by a motor. So, many experts see them as being the future of urban mobility.
Typical examples of emerging transporters, powered by a battery and an electric motor, include:
There is no shortage of users and purchasers of electric powered transporters and a number of members are asking the question: “Are electric scooters illegal when used on a road?”
In fact, there is no specific law that applies 'solely' to the use of powered transporters. So, what does that mean? In simple terms, it means the laws and regulations that relate to ALL other motorised vehicles will apply instead.
The term 'motor vehicle' is defined in section 185(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and section 136(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as "a mechanically propelled vehicle, intended or adapted for use on roads".
Although this is the legal definition, ultimately it is a matter of fact and degree for a court to interpret as to whether or not a vehicle is a motor vehicle at the time of the incident.
The term "mechanically propelled vehicle" is not defined in the Road Traffic Acts. It is ultimately a matter of fact and degree for the court to decide. At its most basic level it is a vehicle which can be propelled by mechanical means. It can include both electrically and steam-powered vehicles.
"Intended or adapted for use on roads" is also not defined by statute and again is ultimately a matter for the court to decide based on the evidence before it.
There has, however, been extensive case law on the subject and the main point that emerges is what is known as the ‘reasonable man test’, as per the following cases:
Personal Transporters - such as those powered by electricity and which transport a passenger standing on a platform propelled on two or more wheels - are what we are considering here. They are generally capable of speeds up to 12 mph. Under current legislation, the Department for Transport considers these as motor vehicles, subject to Road Traffic laws.
The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA) requires a mechanically propelled vehicle used or kept on a public road to be registered and licensed. As self-balancing scooters are mechanically propelled, they require registration and a vehicle registration licence. Additionally, the user would need a driving licence and motor insurance. Other legal requirements relate to construction, use and lighting.
As self-balancing Personal Transporters do not meet the relevant requirements for use on UK roads, and because there is no separate legislation here for public road use by non-EC type-approved vehicles, they cannot be registered and licensed for use on a public road. Consequently, any user of such a vehicle on a public road is likely at the very least to be committing the offences of using the vehicle without insurance and using the vehicle without an excise licence. Self-balancing scooters do not currently meet the legal requirements and, therefore, are not legal for road use. They cannot be licensed for use on a road and they do not come within the categories of vehicle covered by a driving licence. Therefore, any person using such a vehicle on a road will be driving otherwise than in accordance with a driving licence.
Self-balancing scooters such as Segways, mini Segways, Hoverboards and single wheel electric skateboards, may not be driven on a pavement in England and Wales. Under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 (extends to England and Wales only) it is an offence to wilfully ride on the footway. Certain vehicles used by drivers are exempted from these requirements but only where they use Class 2 or Class 3 ‘invalid carriages’. Self-balancing scooters are not classed as ‘invalid carriages’ and so cannot be used on pavements.
Section 21(1) of Road Traffic Act 1988 extends the prohibition on electric powered transporters to include cycle lanes on roads, cycle tracks, or other spaces dedicated to pedal cycle use only. But it excludes EAPCs and mobility scooters from this ban.
Under section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, you must not use powered transporters on bridleways or on any restricted byways.
Self-balancing Personal Transporters can be used on private property with the permission of the landowner. An example of this is where RSS has deployed a Segway Personal Transporter at our test laboratory facility.
Where the police refer a case involving a Self-balancing Personal Transporter to the Crown Prosecution Service, the prosecutor should, as is usual, consider the facts of the case, having regard to the licensing considerations set out above, and apply the two stages of the full code test in the ‘Code for Crown Prosecutors’ when deciding whether or not a prosecution should proceed.
DPP v Hay  EWHC Admin 1395 - Where a defendant is charged with driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving without insurance, and the Crown has proved that the defendant was driving a vehicle on the road, the non-issue by the police of form HO/RT/1 (requesting production of the documents) is not fatal to the prosecution case.
An analogy can be drawn from the case of DPP v Hay where it was held, that once the prosecution has proved that the defendant drove the motor vehicle on a road, it is then for the defendant to show that he held a driving licence, and that there was in force an appropriate policy of insurance, since these are matters that are peculiarly within his knowledge.
The courts have considered the application of the law relating to motor vehicles in 3 recent cases in particular:
DPP v Saddington -  EWHC Admin 409
The High Court found that a Go-Ped, which is a scooter powered by an internal combustion engine, was a motor vehicle in the statutory framework. Mr Saddington was therefore required by law to have a driving licence and third-party insurance when using one on the road.
Winter v DPP -  EWHC 1524 (Admin)
The High Court considered the use of a ‘City Bug’ electric scooter, and whether its user was bound by the compulsory insurance requirements. It found that it was and that the appellant had been properly convicted of the offence of driving a vehicle without insurance.
Coates v Crown Prosecution Service -  EWHC 2032 (Admin)
The High Court considered the situation of Segways in the statutory framework. It found that the appellant had been properly convicted under the Highway Act 1835 of “riding” on the footway, or of “driving or leading a carriage” on the footway. The Segway was a carriage either by analogy to other forms of carriage (like bicycles) or because it was a motor vehicle, which by operation of statute is a carriage.”
Source: Langdon, S.D (January 2019), Road Safety Support
The main thing to consider in the e-scooter debate is the contrast between sustainable transport and an increase in trauma for pedestrians and riders. Our initial starting point would be to not allow e-scooters onto the roadways or pavements at all. However, given the Covid-19 situation, we can see that there may be some benefit to their use, and their use may help to keep people socially distanced whilst they travel to work.
The scooters themselves are constructed without any rider protection apart from brakes. Some have top speeds of 29mph and may even have cruise control. We can only surmise that this is potentially a bad combination particularly for the elderly, the vulnerable and children who would find it difficult to move out of the way quickly. Below are outlines of some trauma research, which we feel is appropriate to incorporate into this document, I have highlighted the most pertinent points for the committee’s attention:
“Pedestrians: Research in Europe suggests ….The survival of pedestrians in traffic depends upon ensuring either that they are separated from the high speeds of motor vehicles … World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention.
Motorized two-wheeler users tend to sustain multiple injuries in crashes, including to the head, chest and legs. The majority of the fatal injuries are to the head, despite helmet use… World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, 2004….
There is much evidence that cyclists' crashes are frequently under-reported in national statistics, particularly in non-fatal single vehicle crashes. Single vehicle crashes comprise the most typical crash type. Typically, these result from rider stunts (27%), or feet caught between the vehicle spokes (18%), as a result of a defect in bicycle design or maintenance (13%) or due to poor road surface (8%). Head injuries are the major cause of death in around 75% of cyclist fatalities. Head or brain injury comprises about 50% of all younger hospitalised crash victims.”
E-bikes are used on the road. E-scooters, in our opinion, are not suitable for the road. The e-scooter is a platform that is too small for the road and will most likely have to be used on cycle paths. They are a potentially lethal device as they are moving at up to 15mph and have hard penetrative objects sticking out of them.
Pedestrians will be placed at risk though if riders of these vehicles use the pavements for any part of their journey. Placing the e-scooter on the road among larger vehicles is far too dangerous to the individual riding the device.
This most certainly leaves legislators with a quandary. On the one hand, e-scooters could be particularly helpful in encouraging sustainable transport, especially now with the Covid-19 pandemic, but only if the infrastructure is in place to support it, and by this we mean all areas receiving a grant to implement any changes required. On the other hand, any introduction of these onto the highways or pavements without infrastructure and legislative changes would probably result in more needless death and injury.
We believe that if e-scooters are allowed on the pavement, that responsibility, to provide separation of lanes on the pavement, is not placed onto local government to fund. Without proper investment in infrastructure across the board, it could result in a postcode lottery of those councils who are able to pay for infrastructure adjustments and those who are cash poor, and so are unable to meet these parameters.
The EU Commission suggests enlargements of pavements and increased space on the road for active mobility for e-scooters.
Tolerances to collision in the human body is quite low. A body on an e-scooter at 29mph (46kph) is exposed to fatal forces. Consider the following:
“The energy of a crash is related to the square of the velocity, so small increases in speed produce major increases in the risk of injury. The human tolerance to injury of a pedestrian hit by even the best-designed car will be exceeded if the vehicle is travelling at over 30km/h. Studies show that pedestrians have a 90% chance of surviving a car crash at 30km/h or below, but less than a 50% chance of surviving an impact at 45 km/h. Research shows that the probability of a pedestrian being killed rises by a factor of 8 as the impact speed of the car rises from 30km/h to 50km/h.”
Some scooters are restricted to 15mph (24kph) which is the current limitation for a legal e-bike. Some e-scooters are built with top speeds of 29mph (46kph). This puts the faster e-scooters well into the bracket of killing 90% of riders and pedestrians involved in a collision at the top speed of the scooter.
Legislation can be put in place to state that the top speed must be restricted to 12-15mph and, thereby, we reduce the potential for death to only 50%, but there will soon be an industry developed to modify the e-scooters to increase the speeds. We have seen this with derestricted mopeds, were they exceed the allowed speed threshold. We are also aware that people can buy devices to fit to their bicycles, which would allow them to travel at speeds of 28/29mph. People can, and some will, derestrict their equipment. Indeed, we tested a modified e-bike for a police force, which had been involved in an injury collision with a pedestrian and it reached 29mph - this is extremely dangerous. It is no wonder the pedestrian was seriously injured.
We are concerned that we cannot see a practical way that the police and courts will be able to enforce and prosecute excess speeds without the forensic examination of the e-scooters. Enforcement activity to determine speeds of masses of scooter riders may prove extremely difficult. Given the nature of trying to determine if a moped / scooter has been derestricted involves an arduous process, it would simply be the same for e-bikes / e-scooters. This is also a topic on the Piston Heads web forum. In this strand the contributors mention the speed of the e-scooters and agree that it should be capped. They also refer to the use of people ‘chipping’ (derestricting the e-scooters) and who will police it? Source https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=10&t=1852244
The very nature of construction features in a scooter amplifies the forces involved (Newton’s law of motion) to extremely damaging mechanisms of injury. The front of a scooter is very narrow, so there is little possibility of distributing the force in a collision. The small frontal cross-section presented by the front steering column concentrates any energy in a collision to a very small area; this increases the potential for trauma. The ends of the handlebars are even more dangerous and will cause penetrating injuries as well as concentrating the force of a collision to the small area at the end of the handle. As you can see from the research quoted above, head injuries are the most common cause of fatality even when wearing a helmet. Motorcyclists wear substantial crash helmets with the most common helmet being a full-face construction. If the most common cause of motorcyclist death is a head injury and crash helmets are compulsory, then what will a smaller polystyrene skull cover achieve? We believe that this needs to be fully researched. The old saying is ‘something is better than nothing’, but we believe that life should be preserved at all costs. Not only do we need to segregate these modes of transport from pedestrians and vehicles, we also need to ensure that the person riding them is protected with the best equipment possible.
In a recent study by the VIAS institute, ‘Electric Scooters: the Helmet of Vital Importance’, it stated,
“These (accidents) mainly take place during the day in areas with high traffic density, where different types of users mix, and on the roadway. Sometimes, however, a cycle path existed……No user admitted to the emergency room after an accident was wearing a helmet. As a result, head injuries and jaw fractures are the most common injuries. Some users have also suffered abdominal injuries as a result of impact with the handlebars. Finally, fractures of the upper limbs, especially the wrists, are also among the most frequent injuries. On the other hand, the lower limbs (e.g. knees) are less often affected. While most of the injuries were minor, they should not be underestimated because they can have a considerable aesthetic impact if they touch the face. They can also have an effect on working life. Thus, a simple wrist fracture can lead to an absence of up to 8 weeks.” With regard to the difference between owned scooter use and rented scooter use, the study concluded, “There is a very clear difference between users who have their own electric scooter and others. The former is generally well equipped, while those who rent a scooter are more likely to underestimate the risks and adopt a riskier behaviour.”
E-scooters, like e-bikes and bicycles, are silent. They therefore pose another risk to pedestrians in the form of startling them. This could be simply overcome by legislating that these types of devices have a bell. This is a simple fix and would allow the rider to signal to a pedestrian that they are close by. Bicycles in the past always came with a bell, this is now not in vogue, but it was a simple safety measure that we should never have lost.
The use of e-scooters is to encourage less car usage within urban city centres, promoting a greener, more sustainable mode of transport. If research is showing us that those who use rented scooters are likely to undertake more risky behaviour, and not to wear appropriate safety equipment, then the resulting injuries may negate any benefits derived to begin with.
If the committee would allow, we would like to add in a supplementary question for it to ponder:
To make a comparison of what it feels like to collide with something moving at 30kph consider this. If you were to fall, face first from a height of 4 metres, a height that is close to the gutter of a 2-storey house, you would hit the ground at 31kph.
If you reduce the maximum speed of a scooter to 30kph it means that you would only be falling from just less than the height of the ceiling in your room, 2.4m with 2.2m putting you close to 24kph as you hit the floor.
We think that it is only by putting the speed of impact in terms that we can all understand that allows us to understand better the numbers in the maximum speed at impact. We believe that no e-scooter manufacturer should be allowed to sell a device advocating a 50kph max speed for e-scooters and that there should be tough legislation in place to protect against this. Indeed, there should be a type approval process regulated by the Government if e-scooters are to be allowed on the roads. If e-scooters are allowed as a new mode of transport, then they should only be permitted at a maximum speed of 19kph (12mph). Again, tough legislation would be required for those caught flouting the law, especially for those who have deliberately derestricted the device. The penalty would certainly need to serve as the deterrent.
To help stop modifications / law breaking etc we would propose that an e-scooter ID is introduced. A transponder / GPS could be used to record details. This would allow authorities to have a virtual record, and an audit trail, from the shop that sold it to the customer. If the e-scooter is sold this record has to be amended. If the record is not amended, then the last person who owed the e-scooter could be liable and could face a fine. It puts the onus on the seller to ensure that the data is kept up to date. Sensors could be placed on existing street furniture like traffic cameras or streetlights to help monitor them. In an ideal world, it would be appropriate if the police could look at a device and see what e-scooters are around, if any have been reported missing /stolen / used in crimes etc.
There are some other considerations for e-scooter ID. ID can be made after the scooter is stopped or while in transit, both present their own challenges. ID while moving would probably not be realistic at this stage; however, we have outlined how this may be best achieved. The use of a RFID, a radio transmitter, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or RFIS frequency, used in registration plate systems, could be an option. Fitting it would of course add expense and could alter the life of the battery. A visual identifier is not going to be feasible as the e-scooters are too small. The RFID receivers, of any type would have to be placed at regular intervals to make them of any use. This would be incredibly expensive and therefore could be cost- prohibitive.
ID while stopped by a police officer or enforcement agency could be very simple. The government can legislate that a serial number or unique registration ID is embossed on the e-scooter. We would recommend a bar-code or a Q-code, preferably a Q-code, as these can be read by free applications on a smartphone or police smart radio terminal. When any e-scooter is examined, an ID must be visible; if there is no ID, then the police could seize and destroy it. If there is an ID, the enforcement authority can get the registration details and the ID is recovered immediately. The central database could sit with DVLA. This ID would also assist with riding intoxicated, through drink or drugs. Obviously any legislation would need to include this.
There are plenty of articles on the use of e-scooters in other European countries. One article which may be of assistance to committee members is one by the World Economic Forum titled, “This European capital tried to fight climate change - but things didn't go as they'd hoped.” The article highlights how Paris tried to introduce e-scooters and e-bikes to assist with urban climate control. It discusses the chaos that resulted as a result of loose ‘loophole’ legislation, with short lived companies vying for space in the market and the not-so-green credentials when you add the ‘juicing’ firms into the mix. Paris will certainly be a great case study.
Other countries have introduced this mode of transport with varying degrees of success. They are mainly seen in large urban areas e.g. Brussels, Stockholm, Berlin and Paris. Indeed, we have seen regulation tightening over the last year within most of these countries.
For example, in Germany you can only use scooters that have been type approved by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority. The rider needs insurance, and this is done by displaying an insurance sticker – this is mandatory. The maximum speed is 12.4mph. No license is required by riders who need to be 14 years and above. E-scooters are allowed to be used on bicycle roads and at special bicycle side stripes. Riders are not allowed to use e-scooters on the autobahn and pedestrianised streets. Riders can push or carry their bikes through areas where vehicles are not allowed. Fines are
Ideas for the Committees consideration