As government trials of rental e-scooter schemes get underway this month, aVenson Automotive Solutions survey shows two thirds of consumers welcome the acceleration of plans to accommodate alternative electric vehicles on the UK’s roads.
64% of respondents to a survey commissioned by leading independent fleet management specialist, Venson, said they would consider using an e-scooter as an alternative to public transport if the trials prove successful and schemes launch nationwide. This puts e-scooters ahead of e-bikes and e-motorbikes, which 41% and 21% would consider riding on their commute.
The big entry barrier to motorcycles and scooters is of course the cost of training, licence requirements and rising kit – it can easily cost over £2000 to start biking. By contrast an e-scooter has no riding kit, licence or insurance requirements.
However, in contrast many have safety concerns. 40% of consumers believe the government’s proposed rider rules would be broken, such as scooting on pavements which is currently banned. 37% are worried it could be hazardous for pedestrians and other road users if too many people ride e-scooters, with women being more concerned – 41% of women compared with 27% of men.
The Government proposals currently state that it is not a legal requirement for riders to have training or wear helmets. Just 11% of survey respondents agree this is the right approach – 58% believe both training and helmets should be required, and 31% believe training is unnecessary but helmets should be compulsory. Younger potential riders would be most comfortable with just helmets – 62% said that would be enough, and just 23% believe training should be required. Women are again more cautious, with 63% of women and 51% of men stating that training and helmets should be legal requirements for e-scooter riders.
Alison Bell, Marketing Director at Venson Automotive Solutions commented: “We look forward to seeing the results of the trials to understand whether this mode of transport will join the mosaic of sustainable business mobility. With manufacturers such as Seat, Daimler and Volkswagen having already invested in the technology, the ability to combine modes of transport for last mile commutes and perhaps even small parcel deliveries is interesting and exciting.
UNINSURED VEHICLES ON THE ROADS? BLM LAW SEE TROUBLE AHEAD
This is from a recent blog on BLM Law, who see a raft of claims potentially arising from allowing uninsured scooter riders on the open road in busy urban areas.
The Act requires motor insurance to be in place for liabilities arising from the use of “a motor vehicle on a road or other public place”. The RTA requires that cover in respect of personal injuries is unlimited whereas a minimum limit (currently £1.2m) applies to property damage.
However, the effect of the decision in Vnuk is that the cover required by the MID is much wider than this and means, in effect, that the European requirement for compulsory insurance – to which the UK remains subject until at least 31 December 2020 – should apply to any powered motor vehicle being used as a means of transport and without restriction as to the type of land on which it is used. Lewis then confirmed that the MIB shall be liable to meet claims in the gap between the UK’s RTA insurance regime and the obligation in the MID as properly understood following Vnuk.
There would appear to be three broad options, set out in the table at the foot of this response, for insurance arrangements for e-scooters, either during limited trials or on a longer, more settled basis. In effect, these may be summarised as follows:
- no compulsory insurance
- conventional compulsory motor insurance
- compulsory insurance with lower minimum limits, either
- MID minimum level, or
- different level(s) based on evidence of risk of harm
As a matter of principle, it appears to us that taking the policy decision to allow a new type of powered vehicle to be used on the roads very likely ought to be accompanied by the introduction of a form of compulsory insurance to protect against the risk of harm that may be caused to other road users. If this proposition is accepted it would appear to exclude adopting option 1.
We do not have specific evidence of the likely risk of harm to others associated with riding e-scooters. We can see that introducing controls and safety measures such as speed/power restrictions and driver training/licencing may moderate the risks and may therefore tend to suggest they present a less serious threat to other road users than conventional vehicles and motorcycles.
That said, negligent riding of e-scooters could foreseeably cause a car driver to take evasive action with serious consequences, leading to the same extent of injury and harm caused by negligent driving. The values of the resultant personal injury or property damage claims could easily exceed any lower level of protection introduced in respect of e-scooter use, although injury claims would have been covered in full had the injuries been caused by negligent driving. This example shows that serious thought needs to be given to setting levels of protection and to their interaction with the existing RTA regime (as well as to the claims process and the function of the MIB as a payer of last resort).