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E-SCOOTERS: What to do if you see an under-age person using one

E-SCOOTERS: What to do if you see an under-age person using one

Image: LDRS

E-scooters have become a common site in Chard town centre in the last few weeks.

As you drive through the town to stock up on groceries or attend appointments, it’s hard to avoid seeing the vehicles – either parked up in clusters at the side of the road, or being used to scale the steep High Street.

But every so often, an e-scooter user will pay by and you’ll be forced to double-take, thinking: “Aren’t they a little young to be riding that?”

For those not in the know, e-scooters are not like electric bikes – you need a driving licence and insurance to operate one.

The vehicles are currently illegal to use on any public road – except in the areas where official government trials are taking place.

So, what should you do if you suspect an under-age individual from operating an e-scooter?

Here’s what you need to know:

The dos and don’ts of operating an e-scooter

E-scooters can only legally be used where they are hired as part of a government trial scheme – such as the current Zwings trial in Chard, Crewkerne and Yeovil or the similar Zipp Mobility trial in Taunton.

E-scooters can be purchased for use on private land outside of the trial areas – but are otherwise illegal on public roads and rights of way.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said: “Private e-scooters remain illegal for use except on private land.

“We’re aware that many people are buying them privately and using them without realising this is not currently lawful outside of trial schemes, and it’s against this backdrop that we are engaging with the public about this issue.”

Those wishing to use an e-scooter in the trial area need to have a valid driver’s licence (either full or provisional), and must be at least 16 years of age.

E-scooters are unlocked by registering on the Zwings app, which requires driving licence information to be entered.

Zwings CEO Joe Lewin said: “Riders sign up to our service via the Zwings app where we have a two-factor driving licence authentication check and require additional personal details.

“All users must complete this process before renting one of our e-scooters for the first time. This ensures that a licence can only be linked to a single account and screens-out fake IDs.”

All riders of Zwings e-scooters are covered by third-party and personal bodily insurance.

What have the police done so far?

The police said there had been many “anecdotal” reports of under-age e-scooter driving but none with sufficient information to take action.

One public of the public called 101 to express concern about under-age riding in Crewkerne after the trial starts, but no action could be taken since the caller did not specify the date, time or location of the alleged offence.

A spokesman said: “The law relating to e-scooters is the same as motor vehicles – therefore, under-age riding is considered an offence.

“In cases where a driving licence is not held, an under-age rider could be reported for driving without a licence, as well as for driving without insurance.

“It is possible for penalty points to be awarded where a licence isn’t held – these come into effect when a driving licence is later acquired.

“We are keen for young people to be aware of this, as it can have an impact on obtaining car insurance as a new driver.

“E-scooter offences are policed as part of regular neighbourhood patrols rather than by a dedicated team. A threat, harm and risk analysis will determine the priority all reports are given.

“Our approach is to engage and explain primarily, but enforcement is an option for repeat or serious offences.”

Currently, no under-age e-scooter drivers have been prosecuted by Avon and Somerset Constabulary in connection with government trial hire schemes – though some have had their Zwings accounts withdrawn.

What has Zwings said about it?

Zwings has said its first priority during the trial was the safety of pedestrians, e-scooter riders and all other road users.

Mr Lewin said: “Anyone renting one of our e-scooters who allows an unauthorised person to use the vehicle is in clear breach of our terms and conditions and is acting illegally.

“We would like to make very clear that if someone unlocks a motorised vehicle on behalf of an ineligible rider, they can face severe implications – including but not limited to points on their driving license, prosecution and damage to
their credit rating, which will mean they will find it harder to secure insurance for their home or car.”

Zwings is introducing a fine system for e-scooter riders found riding on the pavement, two riders using a vehicle at the same time or unlocking an e-scooter on behalf of someone under-age or unlicensed.

Mr Lewin added that his company’s fleet marshalls would help to monitor e-scooter use during the rest of the trial period – and would suspend people’s accounts if they violated the terms and conditions.

He said: “The fleet marshalls are responsible for continually educating the community on how to ride safely and responsibly, as well as observing and reporting any misuse of the scooters.

“These initiatives, coupled with regular consultation with residents, allow us to raise awareness among the community and riders on regulations and to minimise misuse of the e-scooters.”

Mr Lewin admitted there had been “a few instances” where under-age people had been using e-scooters using verified accounts – adding that quick action had been taken to suspend their accounts.

He added: “We strive to educate residents about the benefits of e-scooters, and how to use them responsibly, while providing a platform for all members of the community to easily raise questions, submit feedback, or offer suggestions for improvement.”

How do I report an under-age person for using an e-scooter?

If you spot someone under-age using an e-scooter, you can make a direct report to the police by calling 101 or visiting www.avonandsomerset.police.uk.

However, the police recommend that the first point of contact be with Zwings via their dedicated email address, community@zwings.co.uk.

PSCO Joshua Andrew from the Chard beat team said: “We are working very closely with Zwings and already some accounts have been withdrawn due to inappropriate use.

“The Zwings e-scooters are a good way of getting around the areas of Chard but must be used in accordance with the rules and regulations.

“Any inappropriate use witnessed will be fed back to Zwings via their dedicated community email.”

If you contact Zwings, please provide the precise time, location, and any further information to help identify the user.

South Somerset District Council – which has been working with Zwings during the trial – said there had been an “extremely strong” take-up of e-scooters since the Chard and Crewkerne stage of the trial began, following the successful first phase in Yeovil.

A spokesman said: “We recognise that e-scooters are potentially an effective way of helping the county reach clean air targets and net zero by 2030.

“Following on from the clear success of the e-scooter trial in Yeovil, the Zwings team is working hard together with local police to manage the e-scooter trial in the area and are being proactive in mitigating and preventing misuse by legible and illegible riders.

“We are in the early stages of this national trial, and electric e-scooters are a very new vehicle opportunity in Britain, and one we hope will help deliver de-carbonised transport across the district for years to come.”

Riders in Chard and Crewkerne have used the vehicles for more than 25,000 minutes, or over 18 full days if all the trips were made continuously – with the average ride time between 21 minutes in Crewkerne and just over 25 minutes in Chard.

A total of 92 per cent of e-scooter users said thy felt either fairly safe or very safe while riding the vehicles.

Chard e-scooter user Gary Wellstood said: “I think having the e-scooters in Chard is a great option to zip around to your friends or to go to the shop.

“Or just have a bit of fun for us, adults, as well as for the younger generation. Excellent value for money and for the time you get on them.”

Crewkerne e-scooter user Victoria Abbott added: “One time I was out on a long walk and popped to the shop to buy items for a Sunday roast.

“It was so heavy to walk home with so instead of walking home carrying heavy bags I was able to put it all in my backpack and hire a scooter.

“The e-scooters are fun, and I think they are an asset to the town.”

Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter


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