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The laws regarding privately owned scooters are somewhat ambiguous, and many people aren’t sure whether they need to wear protective gear.
Electric scooters are the mode of electric transportation that are taking over the world, and in many countries, they’re legal on public roads. While the UK hasn’t yet followed other countries, we expect to see electric scooters moving from private land to public roads.
Both cheaper and more convenient than cars, the e-scooter is the perfect solution for commuters that want to avoid public transport, and they’re also an environmentally friendly alternative.However, the laws regarding privately owned scooters are somewhat ambiguous, and many people aren’t sure whether they need to wear protective gear.
In this post, we’ll clear up any uncertainties so you know what your responsibilities are and reveal the many benefits of wearing protective gear.
What Are The Laws Surrounding Electric Scooter Helmets?
As electric scooters are relatively new, helmet use laws and they tend to differ between countries. While we’d always recommend you wear a helmet, it’s not a legal requirement in some countries.
Let’s look at how the UK, USA, and Europe laws differ.
UK Helmet Laws
In the UK, privately owned e-scooters are currently only for use on private land, but scooter-sharing schemes mean anyone can rent one and ride on public roads. Surprisingly, the UK government hasn’t updated its laws to make helmets a legal requirement.
While campaigners are demanding stricter laws, they’re not yet in action. At this time, the government recommends wearing a helmet, but it’s not a legal requirement. This means that if people choose not to wear a helmet, they won’t be penalised and could put themselves at risk.
Currently, the e-scooter laws in the UK are under review, and it’s likely that when private e-scooters become legal on public roads, the government will introduce a stricter set of regulations, which might include wearing helmets and protective gear.
USA Helmet Laws
The USA is one of the most diverse countries globally, and each state can make its own laws. For this reason, electric scooter riders must make sure they follow the guidelines for the state they’re in.
Adults in the USA aren’t required to wear safety gear on the road, although some have helmets laws. While safety gear is recommended by the government and safety agencies, only ten states make helmets a legal requirement.
Most of these laws apply to children and young people (under the age of 19), but some states have restrictions for everyone.
Let’s take a look at the restrictions in these states:
- Helmets Required For All Riders Under 18: California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota
- Riders Under 16 Must Wear a Helmet: Delaware, Connecticut
- Helmets Required For Riders Under 17: Louisiana
- Riders Under 19 Must Wear a Helmet: Michigan
As you can see, the laws in the USA still don’t require e-scooter riders to wear helmets, and adults have the choice of safeguarding themselves. While the general regulations in the country state that all electric bike riders under the age of 18 in the USA wear a helmet, many states have not introduced an electric scooter law.
EU E-Scooter Laws
Many countries in the European Union have embraced electric scooters, and each has its own set of laws regarding who can use them and what kind of protection riders need. Let’s look at some countries and their laws in more detail.
Austria doesn’t require people to have a license for their e-scooter, but a person of at least 16-years-old must supervise anyone under 12. People 12 years old and under must also wear a helmet, but this law doesn’t apply to adults.
The laws surrounding e-scooters are very relaxed in Belgium, and people of all ages can use them without a license. While helmets are a recommendation, they’re not a legal requirement for adults and children.
In France, it’s illegal to ride e-scooters on the pavement. But, despite a vote on whether helmets should be mandatory when using electric transportation, the country decided that they’re still optional for people over 12 years of age.
While many countries in Europe have embraced electric scooters, few have any mandates, which mainly apply to children.
Is Protective Gear Mandatory?
While some countries mandate helmets for e-scooters, protective gear is more a recommendation than a legal requirement. However, protective gear can be highly beneficial for e-scooter riders, and there are many types to choose between.
Knee and Elbow Pads
Knee and elbow pads aren’t essential, but they can provide a lot of protection in the event of an accident. For example, if you’re travelling at a speed of over 5 km an hour and you fall off of your scooter, you’ll feel the effect when you hit the ground.
Using knee and elbow pads can protect you from injuries, which might not seem important, but the pain of a broken elbow or knee cap might make you rethink their relevance!
Body armour is more a choice than a necessity, but you need to think about how it can protect you in the event of an accident. Beginners should always wear protective clothing, but that doesn’t mean you need to ride around looking like an extra in The Terminator.
While full-on jackets offer maximum protection, they’re primarily used for motorcycles – but can be highly beneficial for off-road scooter riding. A vest and some protective trousers will be fine for riding an electric scooter, but you should always think about how and where you’ll be using it.
For example, city riders should protect themselves, but a heavy jacket might not be practical. However, a light-reflective jacket can alert other road users to your presence and keep you safe if you’re riding in high traffic.
Off-road hazards are everywhere, including steep hills, rocks, and other obstructions. Most people choose to ride their electric scooter off-road because they can travel at higher speeds, but this can cause a severe injury.
Some newer electric scooters can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, which is why you should think about using more protection for off-roading.
There are so many fragile bones in your wrist, and when you fall off your electric scooter, the first instinct is often to put your hands out. Wearing a wrist guard can protect your wrists and prevent any fractures.
Ultimately, there are plenty of options for protective gear, and while none of it is a necessity, manufacturers and scooter enthusiasts will always recommend you protect yourself because there’s a higher risk of injury.
Why Helmets Are Essential For Electric Scooters
Helmets might not be legally required, but they’re essential, and anyone with common sense will agree. While an electric scooter might not go as fast as a motorcycle, there’s still a significant risk level of hitting your head should you fall off of the scooter.
When it comes to road accidents, head injuries can occur when you’re travelling at a low speed as well, so it’s always best to protect yourself.
While there isn’t much data about electric scooter head injuries because they’re still relatively new, we can look at the data from bike-related injuries to better understand the most common head injuries.
Concussions are often considered minor brain injuries, but they can become serious if left untreated. Many people don’t realise that the symptoms can last for a few weeks or even months, and someone can develop post-concussion syndrome, which can severely impact daily life.
A head injury might impact other areas of your face, such as the cheekbones, eyes and jaw – depending on the impact of your fall. However, a full-face helmet can protect your entire face, but some scooter riders might find it too intense for general city riding.
Of all the bones in your body, the skull is probably one of the strongest. It’s less fragile than the wrist, but a fracture can cause long-term health implications. In some cases, a skull fracture means you might need surgery, but the pain of frequent headaches is why avoiding this kind of injury is so important.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries can cause short-term effects on your cognitive and physical abilities, but they can also result in behavioural changes. In the most severe cases, this kind of injury can be life-changing and change your personality for the rest of your life.
Intracranial hematomas are very common and often occur alongside traumatic brain injuries. While they are treatable, they can cause long-term cognitive issues and even death in severe cases.
Wearing a Helmet Can Save Your Life
A good helmet will provide protection, and they’re specifically designed to absorb most of the shock should your head hit the ground. It doesn’t matter whether you travel at 15 miles per hour or a high speed of 60 miles per hour, injuries can always occur, and safety equipment is the only way to ride your electric scooter with reassurance.
Helmets tend to come in all shapes and sizes, and as electric scooters are relatively new, most people choose a motorcycle helmet or bike helmet to protect them.
We have a fantastic guide on the best helmets for electric scooters, and you can read it here.
Nely is an adrenaline junkie and one of her life goals is to sky dive, but until that day she gets her kicks from testing fast electric scooters. Part time scooter fanatic & part time SEO analyst. Nely’s favourite scooter is the Dualtron X.