Electric scooters are all the rage in Southern California. Nowadays, you can unlock a dockless scooter using a smartphone, and use it until you no longer need it. Bird and Lime scooters buzz through the streets and, when riders aren’t careful, serious accidents can occur. Riders too can be liable if they caused an accident, so it’s important to obey the law and prioritize safety.
What Is an Electric Scooter?
The law defines a motorized scooter as a 2-wheeled device with handlebars, a floorboard, and something that riders can stand on. California state legislators have suggested a top speed of 25 miles per hour; advocates for pedestrians rejected this as being too fast for a sidewalk. Local law enforcement agencies objected because different types of scooters are rather similar, and it’s hard to tell them apart.
In California, scooters do not require DMV registration. A recent legislative bill, A.B. 2989, would have made more changes in the vehicle code. Instead, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee simply dropped a requirement for adults to wear helmets while riding stand-up scooters1.
The bill also attempts to combine the definition of e-scooters with e-bikes by placing them under the same definition of “motorized scooters”. A motorized scooter may be solely for standing, or having a seat, and be powered by motor or foot.
According to current law, motorized scooters:
- Cannot be driven faster than 15 miles per hour.
- May not be ridden on sidewalks.
- Require a driver’s license to ride, which limits riders to those 16 and older
As you can see, there has been feedback on many fronts impacting the legal implications of riding an electric scooter. The electric scooter companies themselves are part of this intricate puzzle. Below we’ll look at each and how individual businesses are helping contribute to public safety.
Electric Scooters in the News
Several electric scooter companies serving Southern California have been in the headlines. They include:
How Scooters Can Be Dangerous
Scooters are beneficial in many ways. They can help by:
- Reducing vehicular traffic on congested city roads.
- Reducing air pollution, since there are no emissions.
- Providing economic opportunities for mobile workers and freelancers.
The benefits, like ease of use and access, are key to the popularity of electric scooters. However, they can be dangerous under certain circumstances. Several major factors impact safety, like:
Scooter riders face a host of other risks. If you’re inexperienced, you may not know what to do in an unexpected situation. And, no licensing or training are required to prove your competence and understanding of safety. If you panic, a hard stop can cause the front wheel to lock and throw you off the scooter. Not wearing a helmet, riding against traffic or on sidewalks, with more than one rider, or being intoxicated or otherwise impaired are dangers that can be avoided.
Who Can Be Held Liable
Rules of the Road
Keeping yourself safe is the best way to avoid an accident and, subsequently, requiring a Bird scooter accident lawyer. Rules pertaining to electric scooter rider responsibility and safety are contained in California Vehicle Code Operation of Motorized Scooters [21220 – 21235]9. It requires all users of motorized scooters to:
- Have a valid driver’s license or instruction permit.
- Wear a helmet at all times.
- Stay on roads designated for motorized traffic.
- Never ride on the sidewalk.
- Ride alone, without passengers.
- Use proper lighting equipment at night.
- Never park in the way of pedestrians.
According to state law, motorized scooters ridden at night must have a front light source and reflectors. The light must be visible from the front and sides to maximize pedestrian and rider safety.
In California, motorized scooter use is regulated under Section 21235 of the Vehicle Code. Assembly Bill No. 2989 was approved by the governor and filed with the Secretary of State in September 2018. A controversial aspect of this bill, as noted earlier, is it requires only scooter operators under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. It also enables local authorities to authorize the use of motorized scooters on highways, at a speed of up to 35 miles per hour or higher if the vehicle is operated within a Class IV bikeway, otherwise known as a protected bike lane or cycle track.
In addition to the requirements above, Section 21235, following the latest amendment, forbids motorized scooter riders from operating the device unless:
- It is equipped with a functional brake suited for dry, clean, level pavement.
- It is operated within designated speed limits appropriate to a local jurisdiction.
- They have a properly fitted, fastened bicycle helmet if under 18 years of age.
- They do not carry items preventing them from reaching the handlebars.
- They avoid holding on to other vehicles on a road.
State law forbids riding an electric scooter on a sidewalk, except to exit or leave a property adjacent to it. Scooters also can’t be used on highways with the handlebars raised so high, the user must raise their hands over their shoulders to reach the steering grip.
For a more detailed perspective, view the regulatory language available on the California Legislative Information website.
Electric Scooters Safety Tips
Whether familiar with state laws and regulations or not, safety should always be your top priority. It helps protect electric scooter riders, pedestrians, and motorists. Here are some safety tips to consider whenever riding a scooter:
The need for awareness is not limited to just scooter riders. It also applies to:
In an Electric Scooter Accident? Call The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
A prominent personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, Jacob Emrani fights for clients who may be victims of automobile, bicycle, motorcycle, bus, or pedestrian accidents. Electric scooter accidents can cause very serious, life-altering injuries. For riders who are safety-conscious, another vehicle or a pedestrian can be held liable, depending on the circumstances. We will review your case at no cost and provide a free estimate as to how much your case is worth.
The reasons to call Jacob include 20 years’ experience practicing law and fighting insurance companies, even in cases such as Bird scooter accidents in the local area. Insurers typically look to pay less, but we fight for maximum compensation to help cover medical bills, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages. We’ve fought and won cases resulting in million-dollar verdicts and make working with us easy. If travel is difficult, we will meet at your home or office to go over all the details.