There is simply no denying that the use of electric scooters has boomed in recent years and countries are now in constant adaptation mode in terms of rules and regulations and what was formerly a simple kids toy, is now a very popular form of transportation in most major cities and urban areas.
Most countries spent years building up their motor vehicle regulations alongside highway safety codes and electric scooters have posed a serious question as to whether or not they are legal on main roads.
The legality of riding electric scooters will vary wildly from country to country and state to state due to the varied frequency of use. In most locations, an electric scooter will be legal to ride on main roads with speed limits varying from 15mph – 25mph depending on the state. Further to this, specific laws may require slower speed restrictions, a valid driver’s license or simply to follow the general traffic laws.
The legalities of electric scooters are so varied that we are going to give you a few examples and resources in this article to help you work out whether or not it is legal to ride an electric scooter on main roads in your area.
We just need to emphasize the point that you should always check your specific state laws before using an electric scooter on a main road due to the fact that they can vary greatly between states and jurisdictions.
Why Are There Different Laws for Electric Scooters
We are sure you’ve noticed the increased use of e-scooters in major cities and urban areas in the last 1-2 years. It seems as though everyone is ditching the timeless road bike in favor of this new, quick and convenient form of transport that up until a few years ago, was nothing more than a fun kids toy!
The reason they are causing so many issues with traffic management authorities and road legalities is that a lot of states (and countries) are having to adapt to the ever-growing number of people using them in areas that already have existing motorized vehicle laws.
The e-scooter is essentially a hybrid vehicle that the relevant authorities are still trying to correctly categorize.
Up until a few years ago, these vehicles were kids’ toys that were specifically used on private land and not public roads or sidewalks. Occasionally, someone would use them in a cycle lane during a commute and most officials would not have an issue with this as they were so uncommon.
Fast forward to the present day, however, and you’d do well to walk around California, London or paris without seeing multiple people riding around on these as a form of commuting.
The frequency of use within each city across the world has meant that each state is having to implement their own regulations based on safety measures relevant to each individual state. While one state might take a relaxed approach, the laws can vary drastically with New York classing their use as completely illegal for example!
Is It Legal to Ride Electric Scooters on Main Roads
Unfortunately, whether or not an electric scooter is legal to ride on the main road will depend entirely on your individual states’ traffic regulations and it’s beyond our scope to list these individually within this article.
For most states, it is legal to ride an electric scooter on the main road if the speed does not exceed 25mph and the rider stays to the right-hand side close to the curb.
This seems to be a sensible ruling that most states have adopted and it allows for these e-scooters to be used as a fast and convenient form of commuting without individual authorities having to make judgment calls depending on individual circumstances.
This source gives a good overview of specific laws in a lot of states though these are constantly changing and some could now be outdated.
In the UK for example, the laws are being introduced for the correct (and legal) use of e-scooters, you need to be 16 years of age, hold a provisional driver’s license and you cannot reach speeds higher than 15.5mph which is significantly slower than most US state limits.
The key to UK law, however, is that this only applies to hired e-scooters, private e-scooters are not legal as there is currently no guideline in place for motor size and motor vehicles need to be registered in order to pay road tax.
With this in mind, we want to raise some factors that affect the legality of use and that could also allow you to use them safely and in places where laws currently don’t exist to avoid being pulled over.
Factors That Influence Electric Scooter Regulations
Below are some of the key factors that influence when and where it is legal to ride an electric scooter on main roads (or at all).
** Please note these are general guidelines only, always refer to your state laws for all the details regarding the legality of your electric scooter.
Age – Some states will have specific age restrictions for use on main roads, this could be 16+ or 18+ and may or may not require a driver’s license
Speed Restrictions – Most commonly on main roads, the speed restriction for an electric scooter will be 25mph though some states have capped it at 15mph. It’s worth noting that some states even allow for speeds as high as 35mph so definitely make sure you check the speed restriction in your state first.
License Requirements – Some states may require that riders of electric scooters need a valid driver’s license for use on a road.
Riding Area – There are a lot of variances with this, specific laws will not only indicate whether or not it is legal to use an electric scooter on the road but also on sidewalks/pavements, bike lanes and highway shoulders. Therefore don’t assume that because an electric scooter is legal on a bike lane that it is also legal on a main road!
Vehicle Registration – You may be required to register your electric scooter with the DMV in a select few states in order for it to be legally used on the main road.
Traffic Laws – Some states may only require that you follow general traffic laws in order to use electric scooters on a main road. These tend to be states that have not yet drafted up specific laws or regulations for these vehicles. With that said we’d still always advise following the general traffic laws as an absolute necessity in order to minimize your chance of being pulled over during a commute.
Best Electric Scooter for Roads
One of my favorite electric scooters at the current time is the Segway Ninebot ES1 Gen2. It’s lightweight & Foldable and only weighs 24.9 lbs in total plus it has a one-click folding system, which means the Segway ES1 Gen2 KickScooter can be carried with one hand. Easy to fold and store and to put in a car trunk or to take on public transport.
In general, electric scooters are still very much a new concept but do not look like popularity will die down anytime soon and if anything, they will become a more frequent form of commuting for years to come.
Therefore, when looking at the legalities of using an electric scooter on the main road in your state you should always check for specific state laws first.
Where no specific law exists you should use your electric scooter by following all of the general rules of road use such as wearing a helmet, keeping to a sensible speed and even being insured (a motorized vehicle could be a very easy target for claims to be made!).