The new legal reform of the highway code went into effect on January 2. And with it, for the first time, the regulation of electric scooters and other urban mobility vehicles. What do you need to know to avoid slipping up from a legal point of view when using this mode of transport to get around the city?
Goodbye to sidewalks
For starters, electric scooters are now banned from driving on sidewalks and in pedestrian areas. Now they have to share space with cars and motorcycles. Of course, they will not be able to drive on interurban roads, crossings, motorways and highways that pass through towns. Nor can they drive through urban tunnels.
Insurance: it is not compulsory, but it is recommended
The first consequence is that the risk of suffering a mishap decreases for pedestrians, but increases for users of scooters. Is it therefore necessary to take out an insurance policy to drive these vehicles? The answer, for now, is no. The General Directorate of Traffic believes that although it is advisable to take out insurance as a measure of personal and third-party protection, the truth is that it is not mandatory. Of course, bear in mind that if you drive without insurance and have an accident, you will have to pay for the damages.
If you decide to use this type of vehicle to get around but not to take out insurance, it won’t be too easy if the accident victim is you. In this case, you will need to do three things: notify the police, retain the services of an expert traffic accident lawyer and, inevitably, be lucky enough to have witnesses to the accident. If you have insurance, your insurance company will see to it that you receive the corresponding compensation and will make its legal weapons available to you.
If you drink, don’t ride a scooter
Once you leave the sidewalk, the scooter is just another vehicle. Like bicycles, they can also use bike lanes. They must stop at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, and their speed limit is set at 25 kilometers per hour. And, of course, scooter drivers may be required to take a drug and breathalyzer test (fines range between 500 and 1,000 euros, as well as immobilization of the scooter).
More obligations: no driving with headphones, only one person per scooter, not using a mobile phone while driving, and having a lighting system to drive at night (the same requirement as for bicycles). At the moment, a helmet is not mandatory, although we recommend that you include it when riding to increase your protection.