By Michael Phelan
Published: Monday, May 23, 2022
Updated: May 26, 2022 at 7:00 am
The other night on RBT, two young women riding e-scooters through Adelaide were stopped and breath tested.
After thinking they’d been pulled over for not wearing helmets, the situation escalated when one of the riders blew more than twice the legal limit and was charged with drink driving.
All this trouble for an e-scooter? However, after doing a bit of research, I realised e-scooters are motor vehicles and similar rules apply to when you’re driving a car.
As a result, I’ve compiled a few tips and rules you should follow if you decide to ride an e-scooter along Adelaide’s streets.
Did you know e-scooters are vehicles?
Most people think e-scooters are toys that kids, and big-kids, ride down the street. They don’t necessarily realise that they’re a two-wheeled device powered by an electric motor and battery pack.
With this in mind, e-scooters are considered motor vehicles along with cars, motorbikes, trucks, buses and even tractors.
This also extends to other personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as Segways, electric skateboards, self-balancing unicycles and two-wheeled boards (also known as hoverboards). Essentially any personal electric-powered transportation device is seen as a motor vehicle.
This means that you need to follow the Australian road rules when using an e-scooter, or any other motorised wheeled recreational device.
First things first: in South Australia you’re not allowed to ride a privately owned PMD outside of a private property. The same goes for Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Private use is allowed in other states with varying restrictions.
That said, there’s a few things to think about before taking off on one of the Neuron or Beam e-scooters you might hire for a two-wheeled electric adventure. Riders must:
- be 18 years-old
- wear an approved safety helmet that’s securely fitted
- ride with due care and be considerate of other road users
- have proper control of the e-scooter at all times
- be the only person riding the e-scooter, and
- not exceed the 15km/h speed limit (10km/h in some areas).
These are just some of the laws e-scooter riders must follow. Visit the MyLicence website for a comprehensive list of e-scooter road rules.
Breaking the rules could be costly. Minor offences carry a $60 expiation fee while serious infractions can incur a maximum penalty of $2500.
On top of that, you’ll have to pay a $92 Victims of Crime Levy. And yes, drink and drug driving laws apply when riding e-scooters.
You don’t need a driver’s licence to ride an e-scooter, but if you’re caught doing the wrong thing, fines still apply.
In the most extreme cases, offenders might even face imprisonment.
Riding an e-scooter
E-scooters are readily available at various retail outlets and department stores. All you have to do is buy one off the shelf and you can take it for a ride, right?
Wrong! Here’s the thing: privately-owned e-scooters are restricted to private property, and it’s against the law to used them on public roads or spaces. If you’re caught riding an e-scooter in public, you might cop a fine.
End up in a crash? You could end up in hot water with the police, particularly if a pedestrian is involved.
These rules don’t apply for foot scooters, rollerblades or skateboards. If permitted, they can be used in shared spaces.
E-scooters are becoming an increasingly popular, and eco-friendly, mode of transport in cities all over the world.
Adelaide is no exception with trials currently underway in the CBD, North Adelaide, Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, and along the Coast Park Trail – a 70km stretch of coastline running from North Haven to Sellicks Beach.
The City of Unley announced earlier this year it would trial e-scooters in the area until July. If it’s popular among local residents, the trial could be extended by a further six months.
Here, you can legally ride e-scooters in public spaces. However, you can only ride models provided by operators that have a business permit issued by local councils.
Get caught riding a prohibited e-scooter, such as a store-bought model, and you could be fined $1232 for driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle.
Stick to the e-rules
E-scooters are a great way to get around our city streets. They’re convenient, easy to use and can get you to where you want to go quicker than your feet can.
Just remember the next time you see one on a footpath – they’re bound by the same road rules as your car.
And if you do own an e-scooter, please stay away from public spaces. Stick to private property, where you don’t have to worry about pedestrians so much. Bonus: you won’t break any laws.
Follow these basic guidelines and enjoy riding e-scooters!