Click4Assistance UK Live Chat Software

E-scooters and the law in Northern Ireland

5 minute read

Electric scooters and the Law in Northern Ireland

Are electric scooters legal Northern Ireland? Let’s discuss.

Electronic scooters have risen notably in popularity, offering an emission-free and economical method of travel. Retailers have enjoyed significant increases in sales as demand soars. However, with some models reaching in excess of 40mph, this trend has delivered a subsequent rise in related accidents. Over the course of a single year in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there was an 82% rise in ambulances attending e-scooter related accidents.

Yet while e-scooters in England & Wales can be ridden in certain test zones and the UK government has announced that they will be made legal, e-scooters can only be used on private land in Northern Ireland. In other words, e-scooters, alongside miniature motorcycles and motorised scooters, cannot be used on public roads, footways or footpaths under The Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. The only case where an e-scooter is permissible on public roads is where it is appropriately adapted as a ‘legitimate motor vehicle.’ This requires that the vehicle is fully taxed, insured and fitted with lights and a number plate. The rider must also hold a full driving licence and wear the necessary safety equipment during operation.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland

The PSNI has advised that operation contrary to regulations may result in a ‘hefty fine or vehicle seizure.’ Inspector Rosie Leech, from the PSNI’s Road Policing Unit, stated recently that those in breach ‘should expect to receive a formal warning as a minimum course of action.’ Therefore, while the law relating to e-scooters in Northern Ireland remains comparatively restrictive, the development of this legal grey area may be spurred on by the increasing demand for environmentally friendly methods of travel.

E-scooter accident liability in Northern Ireland

Despite the limitations on riding e-scooters on the streets of Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland, there is an undeniable increase in their prevalence. This raises the question, who is liable should an e-scooter become involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle or pedestrian? Should another vehicle collide, or otherwise cause an accident, with an e-scooter then the road user at fault will be liable. The driver at fault’s insurer would likely raise the legality of the e-scooter, like one insurer did in a recent case. Ultimately, in the absence of legislation, the courts would need to decide on a case-by-case basis. In the meantime, the e-scooter rider may also face criminal charges.

If the accident was caused by the e-scooter rider, whether they collided with another vehicle or pedestrian, matters are a little more complicated. Although the e-scooter rider is liable, it is very unlikely that they have insurance, or that it would be covered by a home insurance policy, given the current legality of e-scooters in Northern Ireland. Should they not have the financial means to pay legal fees and compensation, pursuing a claim may achieve nothing more than bankrupting the e-scooter rider should they get issued with a conventional letter of claim. On the other hand, a person injured by an e-scooter rider could claim from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.  

Have you been involved in an accident?

If you have been involved in a vehicle-related accident and seek advice regarding your eligibility for compensation, contact us today. You can learn more about our services at Road Traffic Accident Claims.

By Thomas Brangam.


Related Insights

Click to access the login or register cheese