This is an article about Electric Scooter Law in the US. The world today needs a new and innovative form of mobility, and the scooter is among the leading technology. Although initially intended as a play gadget for kids, electric scooters are becoming commonplace in most cities.
Available records show that more than 84 million trips took place on micro mobility devices in 2018.
Officers of the National Association of City Transportation said scooter riders accounted for 38.5 million of the figure.
Study shows there are some 85,000 battery powered motorized scooters for kids currently on the US roads, more than station-based bikes with 57,000.
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If you think scooters just grew overnight, you are probably correct, and they are here to stay.
Love or hate them; electric scooters are the darling of commuters in a city with heavy traffic congestion.
We are in a world where time is precious and scarce; anything that will get you there fast is essential. So much is the usefulness of scooters that riders are staking everything for it.
As scooter riders’ population grows, managers of city transportation are being challenged to regulate its use for safety purposes. In the US, the sudden pop up of the electric mobility devices seem to have caught managers off-guard.
This is because most available laws address motor vehicles, bikes, and moped. It is sometimes a case of using personal discretion to adapt existing traffic regulations to run the scooters.
Therefore, this discussion intends to bring federal law and some state rules as it affects scooters in the US.
Are battery powered scooters legal in the US?
I know you are anxious to see if you can legally ride a scooter in the US. It is, unfortunately, the answer is a mixed bag of Yes and No!
There is no doubt scooters are being used on many streets across the US cities. This does not mean an approval or a ban; it merely means the transportation authority needs to sit up. Laws are designed to regulate the activity of citizens to live in mutually beneficial ways.
The growing population of scooter riders is ultimately a wakeup call for governments to come up with relevant laws.
Compared to other forms of mobility, electric scooters are the future of transportation. This is more reasons why some states and indeed federal transport managers are yet to release scooter-tailored laws.
However, some states are keeping pace with development and have already reeled out a number of regulations for scooters.
Since electric scooters and riders need a unique form of regulations different from motor vehicles and bikes, new laws are needed. If federal transportation law is ambiguous and your state has no scooter regulation in place, apply existing moped laws.
Where to legally ride battery powered scooters in the US?
Already, there are regulations for bikes and moped at federal and state levels. Such laws as use of helmet, possession of driver’s license, insurance cover, and taxes are commonplace.
All you need is to be legal-smart and act in the best way to guarantee your safety and others. You need to apply wisdom to avoid pedestrian ways and confine yourself to bike tracks where available.
Since scooter laws are just coming, most states are yet to define where to use it legally. However, the practice where the law is silent is to use common sense and ride safely.
Many cities have confined the use of micromobility to private properties and non-major roads. Every city needs a major transport and road reforms to accommodate scooters and its micro-transportation cousins.
In this discussion, I will focus on general scooter regulations inherited mostly from the use of bikes and moped. This is because not many states in the US currently have rules for scooters.
US State Motor Scooter Laws
Before now, most US states are mostly without electric scooter regulations. Considering the sudden surge in the availability and use of scooters, most of the US states are just waking up to enacting scooter laws.
Presently, only a few states have released clear cut guidance to the use of the device. At the federal level, general road use and transportation laws are what we have.
It is expected, however, that relevant authorities will find the time to give the country appropriate scooter laws.
The focus of most states scooter laws, as presently available, is regulating streets and sidewalk uses.
The co-existence of riders and pedestrians on the one hand and riders with motor drives are the critical regulatory focus. Pedestrians should be protected, and also riders versus drivers need to be spelled out.
Already, both federal and states legislations are addressing manufacturing and standard issues. Also, matters relating to licensing and taxes will fall within the purview of each state’s micromobility laws.
The following are a snapshot of selected states battery powered scooter law:
California battery powered scooter Laws
Among the 50 states, only California has a standing electric scooter law. The following are some of the essential scooter regulations to note in the state:
• Riders must be 16 and above with a valid driver’s license;
• Authorized persons may ride on streets and pavement;
• All riders need to wear helmet before riding;
• The rider is not required to register their scooter, get insurance coverage or place license;
• No rider is to over speed and will be fined if caught going more than 15mph;
• Electric scooters must be run on the lane for bicycles and trails;
• All riders are barred from running on the pavement;
• You may run within than 15 mph on 35 mph streets with approval of local authority’s ordinance.
If you are thinking of riding an electric scooter in and around Californian cities, you must comply with the above rules.
Please note that this discussion contains basic information. You have to search for more information from relevant regulatory authorities.
Tennessee battery powered scooter Laws
The state of Tennessee’s scooter law is based on moped classifications. The state classifies motorized mobility as a moped, but one expects clear cut rules in the future.
It defines motor powered cycles as two or three-wheeled vehicles with the following criteria:
• It may not be more than five brake horsepower;
• May not exceed 125 ccs in cylinder capacity;
• Any scooter with cylinder capacity more than 125cc is a motorcycle in the state;
• Scooters within the detailed description, need to register in Tennessee. The dealership of a scooter can do the registration. In case the registration process was incomplete by the dealership, the individual owner will need to complete it.
By and large, scooter regulation in Tennessee is still far from perfect. As is the case with other states and the federal transportation authorities, the scooter is the future.
Florida battery powered scooter Laws
The Florida Scooter laws are in two categories dealing with motorized scooters and motor scooters, respectively.
Motorized scooters are defined as follows:
• The scooters with three or fewer wheels;
• Has speed limit less than 30mph on level ground;
• It is without saddle or seat
As for motor scooters, they as with saddle or seat and are allowed to run on streets and roads. They are to be registered to ply the roads with plate number attached.
Whether it’s a motorized scooter or motor scooter, Florida road transport regulation does not permit scooters to run on the highway. The law further makes it compulsory for the rider to be at least 16 years old with a driver’s license.
It is important to note that the same rules that apply to operators of motor vehicles apply to scooter rider.
The following regulations further apply to any scooter rider in any city in Florida:
• Obey standard road use regulations as applying to motor vehicle owners;
• Riders are to ride their scooters on a single location excluding the sidewalk to avoid harm to pedestrians and vehicles.
While scooters are legal in Florida, riders need to understand relevant road governing rules. Riders are to comply with such laws as no separate laws exist for scooters.
New York battery powered scooter Laws
Like in Florida, use of scooters is governed by existing motor vehicle laws. A rider must have an M/MJ or Class-1 driver’s license to qualify to ride. While anyone is free to buy a scooter, the law requires they are registered as applicable to motorcycles.
Also, it is mandatory for the rider to possess valid insurance before hitting the streets. Be that as it may, you need to submit your device for vehicle inspection and licensed to use them.
There are places where the use of scooters is prohibited in New York City. It is in your own interest to know where such prohibition laws are in force to avoid being caught napping. Breaking the law will attract penalty even for tourists.
You could be fined anything from $1000 to as much as $2000 for such offense.
If you intend to use scooter anywhere within the state, it is advisable to understand the rules. Remember, if you are ignorant of the law is not an excuse to break it.
Illinois battery powered scooter Laws
This state is among some of the locations where scooters serve traffic decongestion purposes. What this means is that there are regulations that guide the use of scooters in the state.
The law demands to intend riders to possess a valid driver’s license and comply with existing traffic rules. In this state, knowledge of the road laws is a must. Although there is yet a separate scooter law, what is required is knowledge of motor vehicle laws.
Foremost, any scooter that will run on the street of Illinois must be registered and licensed under the state law. However, the state did make necessary provisions to ensure easy compliance.
Riders can register their scooters online do so with your local state department office.
Note, however, that the regulation guiding scooters is more stringent in Chicago. The state is stricter in enforcing compliance in the city, possibly because of its sensitivity to traffic congestion.
The best way to understand scooter rules in Illinois is to see motorcycles regulations. Indiscriminate stopping and parking of scooters are not allowed. Every scooter is to have valid license and insurance as part of requirements to use the device in the state.
Jersey City battery powered scooter Laws
You need a valid license to use your scooter in Jersey. Similar to other states where no separate laws govern scooters, you must comply with existing traffic laws in New Jersey.
Registering your electric scooter is a must, and it’s with this process you will get the authority to ride. When applying for a license to ride a scooter in the state, you have to pass necessary safety tests.
• You can’t ride at a speed more than 25mph;
• It is essential to obey road signs and comply with street ban rules;
• Ensure your scooter is licensed before riding it;
• Use the required helmet for self-protection in case of accidents;
Since you must obey the same laws as motor vehicle owners, understanding existing traffic regulations is essential for licensing. Therefore, if you want to use your electric scooter legally, you need a license in Jersey City.
Utah battery powered scooter Laws
The state of Utah classifies motor scooters as a moped. A moped is defined as a vehicle having foot pedals.
Therefore, a cycle with pedals in Utah is regarded as a moped with these criteria:
• Motor-driven cycle powered by pedals to permit propulsion by human power and a motor;
• A moped maximum speed capability is 30 mph on level ground;
• It must have an automatic gearbox;
• The moped driven motor may not produce above 2 two brake horsepower;
• The moped piston displacement is not more than 50 cubic centimetres.
Although many small scooters called mopeds, in other states, typically meet these criteria but do not have pedals. These scooters without pedals do not fit in Utah’s classification of mopeds.
If your scooter is within the above definition, you need to comply with relevant moped governing traffic laws. Utah traffic laws do not require mopeds to register as applicable to motorcycles.
Therefore, all you need to do is ride your scooter in Utah with your eyes on existing road use regulations.
Arkansas battery powered scooter Laws
There are similar efforts in Arkansas as in Utah to define motor scooters as motor-driven cycles. The criteria are as follows:
• Motor-driven cycle, two or three-wheeled mobility devices with a fitted saddle without an enclosed cabin;
• It has a piston displacement below 250cc.
Provided your scooter meets the criteria above, you need to understand and obey Arkansas vehicle regulations. There are no separate laws for scooters, but existing road traffic rules apply as applicable.
While a formal scooter law is expected in the US and indeed each of the 50 states, riders need to comply with existing laws.
Always remember that any object moving at the 15mph hour is capable of inflicting injuries or fatality during a collision.
Knowledge of general traffic law is necessary for any rider to understand safety precautions on the roads.
Electric scooters in the US can run on roads that lack bicycle lanes so far they are within the speed limit of 25 mph.
The scooter must be ridden close to the curb on your right-hand side except when passing or turning left. Different US states have unique specifications for e-bikes, also known as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs).
According to the US 2002 Federal Law, an electric bike will be deemed as street legal if it has a maximum speed not exceeding 20 mph with a motor less than 750W.
If your scooter is within the range, there is no need for registration or a license in many states in the country.
As scooter technology continues to grow into an irresistible phenomenal, riders must comply with regulations to keep everyone safe.
Remember, the safe ride does not stop with compliance with the laws; it is also about choosing the right scooter for use. There are different types of electric scooters in the market; you can choose some of the best here.