Electric Scooters, Are They Legal? Are They Safe?
Updated 9 December to include a response from the ACCC.
Despite electric scooters being essentially barred in most states, retailers are gearing up for an expected Christmas boom as their sale remains marred in confusion, with varying regulations and laws surrounding the use of the transport.
While the Motor Vehicle Standards (Road Vehicles) Determination 2017 (MVDS) provides the framework for what is allowed, state laws make the regulations even more confusing.
According to an ACCC spokesperson, ‘the MVSD provides a definition for a motorised scooter, and the Department of Infrastructure is responsible for regulating this instrument. All consumer products must also comply with the general requirements of the Australian Consumer Law’.
The Watchdog recommends customers to check the regulatory requirements for electric scooters with their local transport authority.
Tasmania, Victoria and both territories allow e-scooters below 200-watts to be ridden at speeds under 10km/h in selected public places.
Queensland, on the other hand, is the only place in Australia where you can ride a scooter anywhere at any speed and at any power level above 200 watts.
The ACT is even aiming to join Queensland before Christmas, with a government spokeswoman wanting to encourage mobile and efficient transport.
The Consumer Goods (Self-balancing Scooters) Safety Standard 2018 sets out the mandatory requirements for the supply of self-balancing scooters.
Otherwise known as hoverboards, the legislation states that any self-balancing scooter supplied in Australia must comply with the requirements of the mandatory standard.
Insurance provider BudgetDirect has a list of electric scooter laws by state updated as recently as 29 October, with the insurer pointing to the rise of Lime Scooters in Brisbane as sparking its circulation around the country.
Major retailers like Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi also stock e-scooters, with many able to reach speeds of 25km/h and above 200-watts.
JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman do warn that ‘each state and territory in Australia has a different set of rules and regulations pertaining to the usage of e-scooters and e-boards’.
Though according to an article from the Guardian, retail staff are not being well-informed about the regulations around e-scooters set out by the Motor Vehicle Standards (Road Vehicles) Determination 2017.
One Target store member said e-scooters were legal to ride anywhere, ‘but you need to wear a helmet’, which resulted in the retailer removing all e-scooter models and one hoverboard for sale from its website.
Amazon is another retailer that sells electric scooters with over 1000 results on its website.
The online marketplace has long been scrutinised for its argument of ‘connecting buyers and sellers’ when accused of selling products that don’t meet proper safety standards.
Most readers will remember the fire-safety hazard fiasco of the self-balancing hoverboard scooters, with the Wall Street Journal obtaining reports of 57 hoverboard fires, explosions and similar issues from the end of 2015 to early 2016.
According to the report, nearly half of the hoverboards were purchased on Amazon, though employee dispositions said many offerings did not indicate where the products were sourced.
The insinuating situation resulted in Amazon having to refund customers US$41.1 million, roughly 19% of all boards sold on the site.
Amazon has since implemented procedures for product recalls and refunds, alongside additional safety processes.
It seems the resellers are also taking note with one listing on Amazon for the UNI-SUN Chrome Hoverboard for Kids ensuring the two-wheel electric scooter ‘won’t go on fire and protect user’s safety’.