The Law

The Law

The Crown Prosecution Service issued guidelines for the use of personal transport scooters on 12 October 2015

Personal transporters, such as the Segway Personal Transporter are powered by electricity and transport a passenger standing on a platform propelled on two or more wheels. They are capable of speeds up to 12 mph. Under current legislation, the Department for Transport considers Segway Personal Transporters as motor vehicles, subject to road traffic laws.

 

The Department for Transports view is that the Segway Personal Transporter is a motor vehicle. The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA) states that every mechanically propelled vehicle used or kept on a public road should be registered and licensed. As self-balancing scooters are mechanically propelled they require registration and a vehicle registration licence (tax disc). Additionally, the user would need a driving licence and motor insurance. Other legal requirements relate to construction and use, and to lighting.

 

The DfT considers the Segway Personal Transporter to be a motor vehicle for the purposes of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986.

 

To obtain registration, a vehicle would need to comply with basic safety standards. Most two-wheeled vehicles being registered are made in accordance with the European rules which came into operation on 17 June 1999.This is known as the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) and applies to vehicles capable of more than 4mph. A vehicle with a certificate of conformity to ECWVTA is eligible for licensing and registration in the UK.

 

The DfT is not aware of any self-balancing scooters which have ECWVTA. Indeed, the European Commission have indicated to the DfT that:

“No EC whole vehicle type- approval has been sought as the Segways is not primarily intended to travel on the road. If this manufacturer (or manufacturer of a similarly propelled vehicle), should eventually decide to seek EC type approval for such a vehicle intended for road travel, [the Commission] consider that it would need to be on the basis of Directive 2002/24/EC on the type approval of two or three wheel vehicles.”

 

The Commission has also advised the DfT that:

“Member States have the right to lay down the requirements which they consider are necessary to ensure the protection of road users (i.e. may fix the conditions for allowing non EC type-approved vehicles on its roads).”

However, in this country we have not introduced separate legislation on this subject. Further there is no separate legislation for non-EC type-approved vehicles.

 

Two or three wheeled vehicles not approved to ECWVTA could theoretically meet the requirements of the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) scheme. If so, they would be eligible for licensing and registration. However, despite such requirements being less stringent, according to the Department for Transport it would nevertheless appear to be difficult for self-balancing scooters to be rendered capable of passing the MSVA inspection.

 

Because self-balancing Personal Transporters do not meet the relevant requirements for use on UK roads, and because there is no separate legislation here for public road use by non-EC type-approved vehicles, they cannot be registered and licensed for use on a public road. As a consequence, any user of such a vehicle on a public road is likely at the very least to be committing the offences of using the vehicle without insurance and using the vehicle without an excise licence. Self-balancing scooters do not currently meet the legal requirements and therefore are not legal for road use.

 

Requirements for driving documents

The Department for Transport and DVLA consider self-balancing personal transporters to be motor vehicles within the meaning of Road Traffic Act 1988 and as such drivers will require a driving licence and third party insurance. A driver of a self-balancing personal transporter will be in breach of section 87 and section 143 Road Traffic Act 1988.

 

Because Segways cannot be licensed for use on a road, they do not come within the categories of vehicle covered by a driving licence (the categories of vehicle which a driver is licensed to drive can be found on the reverse of the photo-card driving licence). Therefore, any person using a Segway on a road will be driving otherwise than in accordance with a driving licence. An analogy can be drawn from the case of DPP v Hay where it was held that once the prosecution have proved that the defendant drove the motor vehicle on a road, it is then for the defendant to show that he held a driving licence and that there was in force an appropriate policy of insurance, since these are matters that are peculiarly within his knowledge.

 

DPP v Hay [2005] EWHC Admin 1395

H was pursued by the police and observed driving at excessive speed. While going through a red light he collided with another car. The police could not speak to H, because he remained unconscious. Efforts were made to contact him, but H discharged himself from hospital and did not reply to messages. The police made no attempt to request production of driving documents.

 

At trial it was argued that H was under not duty to produce driving documents because he had not been asked to do so and that he had no obligation to stop and report the accident because the police were at the scene throughout the accident.

 

The justices accepted these submissions and dismissed the three charges of driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence authorising the respondent to drive a vehicle of the class in question, contrary to section 87(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, using a motor vehicle on a road when there was not in force a policy of insurance in relation to that use, contrary to section 143(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and failing to report an accident to the police within the prescribed time limit, contrary to section 170(3) and (4).

 

H was convicted of dangerous driving, the other allegations were dismissed. The prosecution appealed by way of case stated.

 

The Case was remitted to the justices with direction to continue to try the charges regarding sections 87(1) and 143(1) (a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and to convict the respondent of the section 170(3) offence.