E-scooters have been rapidly growing in popularity in recent years thanks to the speed and convenience they provide not only for recreational use, but an increasing number of commuters have also taken to them.
Halfords saw a spike in the number of sales of these scooters in October 2020, with 700% more being sold than the average, and many specialist independent retailers, e-scooter start-up brands and online stores have witnessed the same kind of buying patterns.
As the world governments push for green targets in the next decade, the use of e-scooters is likely to come to the forefront because they are much more energy-efficient than options such as motorcycles and cars which use fossil fuels. During the current pandemic too, people are also looking to find alternatives to public transport.
Are E-Scooters Legal In Ireland? – What Does The Law Actually Say?
This boom in sales and interest has been balanced by laws in countries such as Holland and Ireland which have made these powered vehicles illegal for use on public roads. Under current laws in Ireland, e-scooters are classed as a mechanically propelled vehicle, or an MPV for short.
According to the Road Traffic Act of 1961, these MPVs are subject to many of the regulations that already apply to other road users such as the fact it has to be insured, registered and taxed. In addition, the user of the MPV is obligated to hold a licence for its use, and also wear proper safety equipment like a helmet.
The grey area arises in this battle to get e-scooters roadworthy because the legislation does not currently define where the MPVs can be ridden or at what kind of speeds. Two cases have already been head in a court in Ireland of drivers using MPVs without proper the insurance on regular highways for public use. The cases were brought by the Dublin Traffic Department, so it’s clear the current law is not widely accepted by both sides of the disagreement. New legislation needs to created to deal with these new devices if they are to be used legally and safely on public roads.
A statement issued by the Garda says that it is not possible for electric skateboards and e-scooters to be taxed, because they aren’t currently considered fit to be used in the public arena.
A Step Closer To Legalising E-Scooters
Now the Ministry for Transport for Ireland has recognised the issue and is setting about creating new legislation pertaining to the use of e-scooters in the country, following in the footsteps of France and Denmark who have already made the electric vehicles legal, albeit with some restrictions.
A new category of vehicles is being introduced, PPTs (Powered Personal Transporters) so that legislation can be made which is specific to them, rather than lumping it in the same classification as motorcycles and cars. It is thought that insurance, tax and a valid driving licence won’t be on the table for such PPTs.
Of course, the legislation will also have to take into consideration the past history of such PPTs, and dozens of people have lost their lives whilst using these devices, such as the TV presenter Emily Hartridge in 2019. Age and speed limits will most likely be set, as well as personal protective equipment such as helmets.
The future does look bright for the future of e-scooters once everyone knows where the stand legally on the issue, and we can look forward to the fun, enjoyment, convenience and energy efficiency they bring once the legislation is finally in place.