Regulations for Self-balancing Scooters

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Fact Sheet
Self Balancing Scooters and similar vehicles

July 2006

Self-balancing scooters, such as the Segway Human Transporter (HT), 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 (20 km/h).

In relation to road use, the Department for Transport considers that these are powered vehicles, subject to road traffic law. 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 also require registration and a vehicle registration licence (tax disc). Additionally, the user would need a driving licence and motor insurance.

To obtain registration, a vehicle would need to comply with basic safety standards. Most 2-wheeled vehicles being registered are made in accordance with the European rules which came into operation on 17 June 1999. This is known as European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) and applies to vehicles capable of more than 4mph (6km/h). The purpose of this is to harmonise technical requirements and thus create a single market where vehicles which have been approved in one of the Member States will be automatically accepted in all other Member States. A vehicle with a certificate of conformity to ECWVTA is eligible for licensing and registration in the UK.

We are not aware of any self-balancing scooters which have ECWVTA. The absence in particular of rider protection, lights, speedometer, audible warning device etc, would seem to make it difficult for self-balancing scooters to be rendered capable of achieving ECWVTA.

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 it would nevertheless appear to be difficult for self-balancing scooters to be rendered capable of passing the MSVA inspection.

There are also rules about where self balancing scooters can be used. Under the Highway Act 1835 no-one may ride or drive on the footway. Certain vehicles used by disabled drivers are exempted from these requirements but only where they use Class 2 or Class 3 "invalid carriages". These vehicles are restricted to a speed of 4 mph on the footway and, apart from those involved in the demonstration, training or repair of these vehicles, the users must have a physical disability. Self-balancing scooters are not classified as "invalid carriages" so cannot be used on pavements.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. "I have a self-balancing scooter and I want to ride in on the public road, is it legal for road use?"

No. Vehicles must be approved via ECWVTA or MSVA in order to be licensed and registered. Self-balancing scooters would not currently meet the requirements of these schemes so are not legal for road use.

  1. "I have been riding a self-balancing scooter on the public footway (pavement) outside my house, have I committed an offence?"

Yes. It is an offence under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 to ride or drive a vehicle on the pavement.

  1. "Where can I ride a self-balancing scooter?"

You can only ride an unregistered self-balancing scooter on land which is private property and with the landowner's permission. The Department would advise that appropriate safety clothing should be worn at all times.

  1. "I have seen people using electric bicycles on the road without registration. Why are they permitted but a self-balancing scooter is not?

Bicycles are covered by different rules to those applying to self balancing scooters. Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles must meet the requirements of the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983. Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles that conform to these regulations are considered to be pedal cycles and as such are allowed to use cycle facilities such as cycle lanes on the road and cycle tracks away from the road which other powered vehicles are prohibited from using. A self-balancing scooter does not meet these requirements as it cannot be pedalled.

The Department hopes that the above information is helpful. However, as you will appreciate, only the Courts can provide an authoritative interpretation of legislation.

Further Information

If you require any further information regarding the Regulations covered by this fact sheet, please contact the DfT at the address below:

Transport Technology and Standards 6
Department for Transport
Zone 2/04
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street

Tel: 020 7944 2078
Fax: 020 7944 2196