Ride an E-Scooter? Then You Should Read This or Risk Huge Fines

E-scooters have seen a huge rise in popularity, both in Spain and across wider Europe, and it’s easy to see why. They’re easy to ride, convenient, and speedy but they also come with their own problems. As a result of these, e-scooters are no longer categorized in the same way as regular scooters or pushbikes. Instead, in a bid to control the way that e-scooter users can utilise their vehicles, Spain’s Director General de Tráfico (DGT) has chosen to identify electric scooters as Personal Mobility Vehicles (VMP). The main take home from this change? It means that e-scooters are now subject to the same rules as cars. Here’s everything you need to know about this change, and how it might affect you:

The Changing Definition of E-Scooters

According to Spain’s General Vehicle Regulations, a Personal Mobility Vehicle (VMP) is one that has “one or more wheels, equipped with a single seat and propelled solely and exclusively by electric motors, which can give it a speed of up to 25km/h’. This means that as well as changing the category of e-scooters, segways, electric unicycles and hoverboards all now fall under the VMP umbrella too.

It is believed that there are more than half a million e-scooters currently in Spain, with 6.7% of Spanish households owning one of the vehicles. But with popularity comes problems, and it is these that the DGT wants to clamp down on. Issues include users speeding (particularly in pedestrianised areas), not wearing a helmet, or riding on the pavement. The new categorisation should remove many of these issues.

Buying a New E-Scooter

It is now a legal requirement that all VMPs have a circulation certificate before they can be used on the road. Issuing this circulation certificate is the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the vehicle, but you should check that the scooter you choose comes with this before you buy it. This change will come into place from January 2024: it is at this point that your e-scooter should comply with all regulations.

And if you already own an e-scooter that doesn’t have a circulation certificate? You can only use this scooter until 2027, when it will no longer be legally valid, so enjoy it whilst you can! Many are viewing this stance as tough, but it’s important to remember that in 2020 alone, 1097 e-scooter users were injured, 97 were hospitalised, and eight of these users died. It is these figures that have brought the use of e-scooters to the attention of the DGT.

Will I Need a Driving Licence?

At this point, you do not need a driving license in order to own and operate a VMP. You also don’t need to have insurance at this point, although this is something that the DGT are currently looking at making mandatory, so this may change in time. This is not the case in all cities, with some having their own rules about the insurances that VMP owners should have.  For example, in Alicante, Barcelona and Benidorm, it is mandatory to take out electric scooter insurance. For this reason, you are strongly advised to check what insurance rules are in place in your region before you take your e-scooter on the road.

What Are The New Rules For Riding an E-Scooter?

If you own, or would like to own, an e-scooter then you need to know that the rules for driving one are now fairly extensive. Taken directly from the DGT website, the new VMP laws include:

  • “The minimum age requirement to ride a VMP is 16.
  • Only one person is permitted to ride on a scooter at any one time.
  • You must wear a helmet at all times.
  • You must not ride while wearing headphones: in addition to being very dangerous, it is prohibited.
  • You must drive carefully, avoiding endangering other road users.
  • You must not drive on the pavements: it is prohibited.
  • You must respect the signs and pedestrian crossings.
  • You are only allowed to park in the authorised places, as directed by your municipality.
  • The person responsible for any incident is the driver, or their parents if they are a minor.
  • VMPs are not allowed on interurban roads, highways, highway crossings and urban tunnels.”

What Happens If I Break These Rules?

If you break any of these rules then you are likely to incur a hefty fine. As the DGT has introduced a 0.0 alcohol rate for driving any kind of VMP, for example, then if you have a single drink you will be subjected to a 1000 euro fine. If you use your mobile phone, or wear headphones, whilst riding a VMP then the fine is €200.

Illegally riding a scooter with a passenger will result in a fine of 100 euros, riding a scooter on a footpath will result in a fine of 200 euros, and riding a VMP on the roads at night without appropriate lights will lead to a €200 fine. These are just some examples of the fines you could face, with all of the rules outlined above incurring their own fines if you break them. The aim as this is to act as a deterrent, and encourage e-scooter owners to drive their VMPs responsibly.

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