Hundreds of thousands of new electric scooter riders have hit the streets around the country in the last few years due to several companies releasing a massive amount of dock less rentable e-scooters. Electric scooters, or e-scooters, use motors that enable them to reach about 15 miles per hour maximum, on average. Unfortunately, the debut of rentable e-scooters has led to a significant increase in related accidents, injuries, and deaths. Learn Texas’ current e-scooter laws to protect yourself and reduce your odds of getting into a collision.
Are Electric Scooters Legal on Streets in Texas?
Yes, it is legal to operate an electric scooter on streets in Texas. E-scooters are only legal on roads with speed limits at or below 35 miles per hour, however. It is generally more dangerous to operate an e-scooter on the sidewalk, as this can threaten the safety of pedestrians. Texas technically does not have any laws against riding an e-scooter on a sidewalk, although municipalities have the right to enforce such laws. State lawmakers have yet to pass Senate Bill 549, which would place a statewide ban on sidewalk use and enact several other e-scooter laws. Until this law or a similar one passes, e-scooter riders can operate on sidewalks in Texas where city laws do not prohibit doing so.
Do Scooter Riders Have to Obey Traffic Laws?
Under Texas law, e-scooters riders must follow all the same traffic laws as motor vehicle drivers. They must follow traffic signs, stop at lights, pay attention to rights-of-way and ride following the same direction as traffic. Riders should always obey speed limits and should not ride faster than is safe and prudent for roadway conditions. E-scooter operators cannot take their vehicles on highways in Texas. Obeying the law and staying predictable to other motorists on an e-scooter could help you avoid a collision.
Do You Need a License to Drive an Electric Scooter in Texas?
You currently do not need a driver’s license to operate an e-scooter in Texas. Texas Transportation Code 551.352 currently does not have an age requirement on e-scooter operation. SB 549 would enforce a minimum age limit of at least 16 years old, as well as make it mandatory for the rider to have a valid driver’s license. For now, however, those under 16 may operate electric scooters. That being said, most e-scooter rental companies require riders to scan their driver’s licenses before unlocking the vehicle. Without a valid ID, a rider will not be able to rent an e-scooter from most companies. E-scooters can be extremely dangerous for children. Do not use your driver’s license to unlock an e-scooter for someone under 16.
Do You Have to Wear a Helmet?
Although rentable e-scooter companies promote the use of helmets – some will even send riders free helmets – they are not a legal requirement in the State of Texas. The state’s e-scooter law currently does not have a provision enacting a universal helmet law for riders. You may lawfully operate an electric scooter without wearing a helmet unless your city has a municipal law saying otherwise. Failure to wear a helmet, however, could substantially increase your risk of a serious or fatal brain injury in an e-scooter accident.
What Are Some of the Risks and Dangers of Electric Scooters?
Electric scooters have many unique traits that increase the risk of accidents and serious injuries for riders. Many riders do not understand or recognize these risks before hopping on e-scooters. There is a common misconception that electric scooters are safe – in part due to the fact that e-scooter companies have been historically lax with the rules, such as who can ride and whether riders need helmets.
Common risks and dangers associated with electric scooters include:
- Small size
- Prone to accidents
- Vulnerable to road defects such as potholes
- Fast operating speeds
- Defective scooters
- Electrical malfunctions
- Brakes locking in transit
- Poor e-scooter maintenance
- No helmet immediately available
- Inexperienced operators
- High-risk operator behaviors
- Distracted drivers
- Lack of protection in a collision
Many things make e-scooters more dangerous than other forms of transportation, including bicycles and passenger vehicles. Their speed, lack of rider protection and the possibility of product defects put operators at risk of life-changing injuries.
What Are the Most Common Accidents With Electric Scooters in Texas?
Electric scooter accidents can take many shapes and forms depending on the circumstances of the collision. E-scooters can get into collisions on sidewalks, bicycle paths and public roadways, depending on where the rider chose to ride. They can collide with many different things, including motorists and fixed objects.
Based on available crash data, the most common accidents involving electric scooters in Texas are:
- Vehicle-scooter collisions. Drivers are often distracted, inattentive or reckless behind the wheel, increasing the risk of a driver failing to see an electric scooter. In these collisions, the e-scooter rider is always at risk of more severe injuries.
- Scooter-pedestrian collisions. Many e-scooter riders break the law by riding on sidewalks and ignoring pedestrian rights-of-way. This can result in collisions between scooters and pedestrians that can seriously injure both parties.
- Defective e-scooter accidents. There have been several cases of electric scooters containing dangerous manufacturing or design defects. These defects can lead to malfunctions in transit that cause e-scooter accidents.
- No-contact accidents. An electric scooter rider may have to swerve out of the way or drive off of the road to avoid a collision with a motorist. Although the two vehicles never touched, the motor vehicle driver could still be liable.
- Fixed-object collisions. If an electric scooter rider fails to pay attention or take proper care in controlling the vehicle, he or she may collide with fixed objects, such as guardrails or parked vehicles.
The type of electric scooter accident can determine important aspects of an injury claim, such as the liable party. A personal injury attorney in Dallas can help a victim investigate a crash to determine causation and fault, as well as gather key evidence.
What Are the Most Common Injuries With Electric Scooters in Texas?
E-scooter accidents are often physically and emotionally devastating for victims. They are similar to motorcycle accidents in that the rider can suffer catastrophic injuries due to a lack of protection in a collision with a motor vehicle, fixed object or the road. An injured e-scooter rider may have to spend thousands of dollars in medical care, including ongoing care for long-term injuries.
Some of the most common injuries associated with electric scooter accidents in Texas are:
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Bruising and contusions
- Road rash
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back, neck and spine injuries
- Internal injuries
- Permanent injuries
- Emotional injuries and PTSD
- Wrongful death
If you suffered severe or catastrophic injuries in an electric scooter accident in Dallas, it is important to consult with an attorney about your legal rights. An insurance company may try to devalue your injuries and losses to save money on your claim. An attorney, on the other hand, will work hard to maximize your financial recovery and get your family the results it needs during this difficult time.
Who Is Liable for an E-Scooter Accident?
If you get into an e-scooter accident in Texas, call 911 and report what happened. Asking the police to visit the scene could help you document the collision and collect important evidence, such as the contact information of any eyewitnesses. The police may be able to help you determine fault as well, such as by issuing the driver a ticket for breaking a roadway rule or driving recklessly.
The motor vehicle driver might be liable for your injuries and damages if he or she was negligent or reckless and this caused your collision. If you broke an e-scooter law or were operating your scooter carelessly, however, you could be at fault for the collision instead. Contact an e-scooter accident attorney for assistance filing and negotiating your case.