Are Electric Scooters Legal in Florida?
Ask many Floridians and they will not know the answer to whether electric scooters are even legal or not in the Sunshine State. When these vehicles first came out in the years before anyone had even heard of Covid-19, electric scooters from Lime, Bird and a number of the other companies that first popularized the use of these vehicles starting on the West Coast and then throughout the country clogged the streets in large numbers in the downtown areas of many Florida cities. At the time, they were illegal and were considered nothing more than a nuisance by many people and a fad that would likely pass. However, electric scooters are now legal in Florida, more popular than ever, and now appear to be here to stay.
In addition to not even realizing that these vehicles are now legal in the Sunshine State, very few drivers know how to interact with them. This is made worse by the fact that these vehicles can be extremely dangerous given some of their unique features as compared with a car, truck, or more conventional motor vehicles. Many of the scooters can go as fast as 30 mph, but their riders are not required to wear helmets and can be uniquely vulnerable in the event of a collision given they are, for all intents and purposes, completely unprotected. Therefore, absolute caution should always be exercised when riding on or near an electric scooter, lest you become involved in a serious accident.
What Exactly Is an Electric Scooter?
An electric scooter, or e-scooter as they are known by many people, has no seat. The rider stands up on an electric scooter and utilizes a motor to propel the vehicle forward. This is in contrast with mopeds or motorcycles, which both have seats for their riders. The rider controls the speed of the vehicle through controls on the handlebars and, in some types of e-scooters, stops by pressing down on a footbrake on the back of the vehicle, whereas other e-scooters have brake controls on the handlebars.
Florida Law Relating to Electric Scooters
E-scooters became legal in Florida in 2019 pursuant to legislation that passed the Florida Legislature and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on June 18, 2019. To ride an e-scooter in Florida, a rider must be at least 16 years old, but is not required to have a driver’s license. According to that law, e-scooter riders also have the same rights and responsibilities that bicyclists have on Florida roads, including the opportunity to use electric scooters in bike lanes. Only one rider per e-scooter is permitted and no insurance is required to ride electric scooters in Florida.
However, the June 2019 law making electric scooters legal in Florida also allowed cities to regulate their use in a wide variety of different ways. Different cities throughout Florida have taken different approaches, with Orlando permitting the use of e-scooters on sidewalks in November 2021. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County started a pilot program with seven different electric scooter companies to allow for the widespread use of their scooters throughout the county. However, given a large number of violations by scooter riders (including riders on the sidewalk, multiple riders on a single scooter, etc.), the county recently revoked the permits of five of the seven companies that were participating in the pilot program.
Safety Concerns with Electric Scooters
E-scooters also come with a number of serious safety concerns that can make them more likely to be involved in accidents than other types of vehicles and can also result in those who are riding these vehicles suffering more serious injuries if they are involved in an accident. For example, electric scooter riders are completely exposed and they are not even required to wear helmets, so they can easily go flying off their scooter if involved in an accident. This can be fatal, particularly if the rider strikes his or her head. The scooters can also be more difficult to control in the rain, given that the water may affect a rider’s ability to utilize the controls on the handlebars.
Two other safety concerns unique to electric scooters are e-scooter rider experience levels and the lack of turn signals on these vehicles. Given that electric scooters are such a new form of transportation, both drivers and e-scooter riders often do not understand the proper way to interact with other traffic on the roads. This can lead both the e-scooter riders as well as nearby motor vehicles to fail to anticipate scenarios that can lead to collisions. There are also no turn signals on electric scooters and in many places riders have the freedom to choose where to ride (whether on the sidewalk or on the road). This can be extremely confusing for other drivers, which can make accidents more frequent.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. If You Have Been Involved in an Accident Involving an E-Scooter
Electric scooters and their riders have exploded in popularity since they were first legalized in Florida in 2019, but they continue to be involved in more accidents as their use has increased. At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of motor vehicle and other accidents in Florida, including both those injured in an accident who were riding an electric scooter as well as those injured in accidents in which an electric scooter was involved. Given the increasing prevalence of electric scooters on the roads of Florida, accidents involving e-scooters are only expected to become more common in the future. Therefore, if you, a family member, or a loved one has been injured in an incident involving an electric scooter, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.