In recent years, electric scooters have been one of the most polarizing things in U.S. cities. This polarization has lead to implementing electric scooter laws.
App-driven bike rentals paved the way for electric scooters, which people can also rent with their phones for quick, easy transportation that requires no pedaling. Some people love them, others hate them.
But choosing sides still leaves an important question unanswered: what are the electric scooter laws?
Whether you plan to hop on an electric scooter soon, or believe they’re a plague upon your city, it’s important to know how the law sees them. This will help you if you find yourself in an increasingly common situation involving one: an electric scooter accident.
The Rise of the Electric Scooter
First, some history: where did these machines come from, and why are they so popular now?
For a long time, the only way to get around a city was by car, public transit, or foot. Needless to say, those options left a lot of gaps waiting to be filled. Going on foot is slow and often impractical.
Traveling by car could be expensive. And public transit didn’t always go right where or when you needed it.
One of the first widespread alternatives was the rent-a-bike option. Companies built sturdy bikes that users could unlock with an app, allowing them to get around without needing to buy and store a bike themselves. Bikes were faster than walking, but cheaper and more versatile than cars, buses, and trains.
However, bikes also require a lot of physical exertion. For people who want the environmental benefits and easy navigation of a bike, without the challenges, scooters started to look appealing.
The concept quickly took off. People could go from place to place quickly and inexpensively on a scooter. Plus, they’re fun to ride, making them incredibly popular in recreational areas like the beach boardwalks of California.
However, while the scooters became popular, the necessary laws took a while to catch up.
A History of Electric Scooter Laws
Electric scooters haven’t been around for long enough for many laws to govern their use. However, in 2019, that’s likely to change.
The need for electric scooter laws has become clear in the short amount of time since they’ve been popularized. These machines often cause accidents, which might be the fault of either the rider or the pedestrian. Some laws, such as regulating their use on sidewalks, will seek to prevent those accidents.
Several lawsuits have cropped up in the meantime. These suits address many situations, from the lack of provided safety instructions to the risks posed by discarded scooters laying in pathways.
Right now, the existing laws vary a great deal by state. Without specific laws to govern motor scooter use, they’ve often been lumped into other categories, even if they don’t fit well.
For example, some places consider these scooters to be motor vehicles, although they’re a far cry from a car or a motorcycle. Other states consider them toys. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of variation between the laws governing toys and the laws governing motor vehicles.
Electric Scooter Laws Now
What are the current laws about electric motor scooters?
It all depends on the city and state. Overall, they’re now widely considered to share the same legal category as electric bicycles. This fits the electric scooter far better than being considered a toy or motor vehicle.
However, there is no consensus on what those laws look like. Let’s take a quick look at how some different areas approach electric scooter laws now.
In New York state, no one can ride an electric scooter on or around streets and sidewalks. However, since electric bikes were recently approved, it’s possible that electric scooter use won’t be far behind.
California, with its warm weather and sprawling cities, is one of the most popular places for people to ride electric scooters.
According to state law, the scooters are legal as long as riders follow a few rules. For example, they can’t be ridden on the sidewalk, and aren’t allowed to go faster than 15 mph. Of course, it’s hard to enforce those rules in some areas where scooter use is common.
Cities also often add their own laws on top of the state’s rules.
Texas has fairly lax state laws governing motor scooters, but again, the specifics depend on the city. For example, Austin banned electric scooters for a while, and then made them legal again, but with new restrictions.
Electric Scooters and You
The main thing to know about electric scooter laws is that they’re wildly different from place to place, and change often. How does that affect you?
If you plan to ride an electric scooter, you should carefully research the relevant laws in your city and state. Knowing the most up-to-date laws can help you avoid tickets and worse.
However, even if you don’t ride an electric scooter, you could find yourself encountering one in other ways. Scooter collisions remain incredibly common, as well as other types of accidents, such as tripping over a scooter in the pathway.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, on either side, it’s important to hire legal counsel to help you determine the next steps. With such a complicated legal landscape, it’s not wise to try to navigate it on your own.
Need an Electric Scooter Injury Lawyer?
Have you been in an incident involving an electric scooter?
If a personal injury was involved, you won’t want just any lawyer. You need someone with the right kind of experience to get you the outcome you want. That’s where Sweet Lawyers comes in.
Don’t try to figure out the electric scooter laws on your own. Instead, contact us today and learn what you’ll need to do next.
Call our offices today for a free, no-obligation consultation at (800) 674-7854.