E-scooters are a new and eco-friendly method of personal transport that’s great for short distances. They’ve become the norm in cities around the world including Houston. But are they safe to ride here? And are they legal?
What Are E-Scooters?
These stand-up two-wheeled wonders are visible throughout areas of Houston. The machine includes an electric battery for power, hence the name. They reach a top speed of about 30 mph and are great for short jaunts around town when you don’t want to drive or call an Uber. E-scooters are an alternative form of personal transport that can help reduce congestion, pollution and are easier to park in an already crowded urban area.
Similar to kick scooters, the rider stands on a small, narrow platform and uses a handlebar for steering. Unlike manual kick scooters, they can travel faster, run on electricity (battery) and can go longer distances.
E-Scooters are Legal But Know Where To Ride
Yes e-scooters are legal. However, you cannot ride an e-scooter just anywhere, including sidewalks and freeways. Sidewalk riding is also prohibited for the safety of pedestrians. They are strictly for surface street use, and you can utilize bike lanes where available. Houston police have provided a brief PSA on ordinance for e-scooters.
The rule of thumb is that you should stay on roads with speed limits of less than 35 mph. Since the top speed these machines can reach is about 30 mph, you cannot be on roadways with greater speed limits as you will slow traffic, create a hinderance, and possibly cause an accident or get hit by a vehicle moving at legal higher speed.
Insurance, registration, and driver’s licenses are required to operate your personal e-scooter. If using a e-scooter rental, you can download an app to provide your information. Many companies require a valid ID, such as a driver’s license, to rent and unlock one. Riders must be at least 16 years old, although some companies may have a minimum age of 18. These rental e-scooters will have registration via the company. But read on to learn about insurance coverage.
Helmets aren’t required either but are highly encouraged, just like with a bicycle.
E-Scooters Are Motor Vehicles
Texas state law considers e-scooters to be “motor vehicles,” and are subject to the same rules and regulations as any automobile or motorcycle. Just like your car, you must register them and have motor vehicle insurance on them.
When you rent your e-scooter, you’ll be agreeing to a liability waiver which includes the statement, “Your automotive insurance policies may not provide coverage for accidents involving damage to this vehicle. To determine if coverage is provided, you should contact your automotive insurance company or agent.” If you’re injured, you may be on your own for accident-related expenses. Therefore it is imperative that you have your own insurance. In certain instances, regardless of the waiver, you may still be able to sue the rental company, but it would be difficult and no guarantee you would win. Better to rely on your own insurance policy.
That said, whenever you ride one, you must understand the risk. You are operating a small vehicle and are more vulnerable to injuries, serious injury, if you are hit. Be aware of your surroundings & the speed you are traveling, do not drink and drive, and wear protective gear.
Unfortunately e-scooter accidents can happen. Drivers may not see e-scooters because they’re so small. Even when someone is riding correctly, a driver may hit one because they didn’t see the rider. Improperly maintained scooters can also cause injuries if it malfunctions during use.
Many riders have never ridden an e-scooter before and hop onto one without thinking. That’s why the rental companies mention renting at your own risk and strongly suggest a helmet. An accident on an e-scooter can leave a rider with serious injuries such as broken bones, bruises, lacerations, soft tissue injuries, back, neck, and spinal injuries, and even traumatic brain injuries. They can even turn deadly. In January, three people were killed in downtown Houston, one of whom was riding an e-scooter.
If you are injured while riding your e-scooter, you may be entitled to compensation and should discuss your case with a personal injury attorney like Richard Paxton.
Also if you are injured as a pedestrian due to an e-scooter, you may be able to receive compensation by going after the negligent driver of the e-scooter.
Contact Houston Accident Lawyer Today
E-scooters are a fast, efficient, and eco-friendly way to get around Bayou City, but they’re not without risks. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident or by someone riding an e-scooter, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Paxton Law Firm today by calling (281) 978-2244 or filling out our online contact form. During your free consultation, you can learn more about your legal options. For Espanol INICIO and CONTÁCTENOS EN.