Electric scooters have become a common sight around California thoroughfares, but with their rising popularity comes a greater chance for accidents involving them. The University of California, Los Angeles, revealed that the rise of shareable e-scooters in 2018 caused a dramatic spike in e-scooter injuries at 595 cases—significantly more than the previous maximum of 13.
Given this risk, operating e-scooters entails a set of legal considerations that riders and pedestrians should be aware of. Let’s delve into electric scooter laws in California and related personal injury legislation for when you get caught up in accidents involving these vehicles.
California Electric Scooter Laws
The following laws are under the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Division 11, Article 5: Operation of Motorized Scooters, implemented from 1999 to 2019. Note that these are without prejudice to other laws that are still developing.
- CVC §21221.5: Riders are subject to Driving under the Influence (DUI) laws. According to the University of California, San Diego, 88% of scooter crashes were DUIs.
- CVC §21223: E-scooters must have adequate lighting during low-light conditions. It includes a white light in front, a red reflector behind, and white or yellow reflectors on either side.
- CVC §21224: Registration of e-scooters differs from other vehicles.
- CVC §21227: An e-scooter’s electric motor must disengage when braking. It should also only run with a switch that disengages it when released, similar to a dead man’s switch.
- CVC §21228: An e-scooter going down a highway slower than the general traffic should ride close to the right-hand curb or edge. However, it isn’t applicable when overtaking, preparing for a left turn, avoiding road hazards, and driving along a one-way multi-lane road where the rider must operate at the left-hand curb or edge.
- CVC §21229: If there’s a class II bicycle lane present, the e-scooter rider shall ride within it unless overtaking, preparing for a left turn, avoiding road hazards, or approaching right turns.
- CVC §21230: E-scooters may operate on a bicycle path, trail, or bikeway unless prohibited.
- CVC §21235: E-scooter operators must take note of the CVC’s prohibitions.
If you were involved in an accident due to an e-scooter operator’s actions or when driving an e-scooter yourself, especially in violation of these laws, you may seek compensation.
What Are the Key Points on Electric Scooter Laws?
Understanding these provisions is crucial to maintaining safe roads for e-scooter riders, pedestrians, and everyone sharing the road. Here are the key points on California Electric Scooter Laws.
I. Basic obligations and rights
Wearing a helmet for riders below 18 years old (CVC §21235)
California law mandates individuals under 18 years old to wear helmets while operating e-scooters. This precautionary measure mitigates the risk of severe and fatal accidents involving riders relatively inexperienced in road rules.
Dismounting and walking for left-hand turns (CVC §21228)
Turning left with a low-speed vehicle like an e-scooter can be challenging and dangerous, especially when riding along a busy highway.
The CVC establishes a safer approach by requiring riders to dismount close to the right-hand curb and cross the road on foot, reducing the likelihood of accidents at intersections. It’s also applicable when driving along the left-hand curb of one-way multi-lane thoroughfares and turning right.
Speed limit (CVC §22411)
E-scooters are subject to a speed limit of 15 mph (24.14 kph) to reduce the risk of accidents from excessive speed for small vehicles, given that they can only drive along bike paths or next to sidewalks.
Mandatory use of bike lanes (CVC §21229)
As mentioned, the law mandates e-scooters to drive along class II bike lanes if available. These are one-way lanes with identifying stripes and signage that allocate a portion of the road for exclusive or preferential bicycle use.
No passengers, stay off the sidewalk, and have a valid license (CVC §21235)
E-scooters are small vehicles with low-power motors, so they can only safely accommodate one person. Due to this limitation, California law prohibits riders from having passengers to avoid breakdowns and other complications. Likewise, e-scooters must not operate along sidewalks unless entering or leaving adjacent property.
Finally, every motor vehicle operator on the road must be familiar with California road rules and regulations—e-scooters are no exception. As such, riders must have a valid driver’s license or instruction permit on their person while operating their vehicle.
II. Covered individuals or groups
E-scooter operators with any class of driver’s license in California
Individuals operating e-scooters on public roads fall directly under the purview of these regulations, so riders must be aware of and adhere to them to ensure their safety and those of others. Any California driver’s license classification will do.
Given the shared use of sidewalks and pathways, e-scooter laws indirectly affect pedestrians. Adhering to these regulations ensures that people walking along sidewalks and crossing the road are safe from e-scooter accidents.
E-scooters can be a significant part of road traffic. Other drivers sharing the road must learn the rules regulating these vehicles to create a safe coexistence and avoid car and motorcycle accidents.
Protect Yourself from E-scooter Accidents
E-scooters have become commonplace on California roads, making e-scooter accidents more likely. So, we can’t overstate the importance of getting familiar with established legislation regulating their operation. This knowledge will not only help you become a better rider but also let you know if you’re entitled to seek compensation if you become a victim of an e-scooter accident.
If you’re involved in an e-scooter accident in California and need a personal injury lawyer to guide and represent you through the process, reach out to us at RMD Law. Our team of experienced attorneys is ready for the tireless representation you deserve.
Contact us for a free case evaluation today.
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