Electric scooters and powered transporters
It is illegal to use electric scooters (e-scooters) and powered transporters on public roads and pavements in London. This includes cycle routes and pedestrian-only areas.
The Department for Transport decides which vehicles are legal to use, and it is currently illegal to use electric scooters and other powered transporters in most public spaces.
Specifically, the law says that:
- On roads, anyone that uses an electric scooter or other powered transporter is committing the offence of driving a motor vehicle with no insurance. You could be liable for a fixed penalty of £300 and six points on your driving licence
- On pavements, it is an offence to drive a motor vehicle, and this applies to electric scooters and powered transporters. There are also separate laws that forbid them from footpaths and cycle routes
- Electric scooters and powered transporters can be used on private land. However you must have permission from the landowner or occupier
Some of these laws do not apply to mobility scooters or e-bikes (electrically-assisted pedal cycles), which are not treated as motor vehicles.
Advice for drivers
- Leave room for cyclists at traffic lights. Drivers shouldn't enter the advanced stop line box when the light is red. This space is reserved for the safety of cyclists and you maybe liable for a £100 fixed penalty and three points on your licence
- Give cyclists room. Keep a safe distance from cyclists and don't attempt to overtake when there is not enough space. Give as much space as you might for another car. Cyclists might use the middle of the lane if they feel it's too narrow for cars to overtake, so hang back if you can't pass safely.
- Look when you leave the car or lorry. Make sure you check to see if there is anything coming before opening your car door or before turning left or right - they might be filtering through slow moving or stationary traffic
- Be careful at junctions. Be aware of cyclists when approaching junctions. Some junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be safely positioned ahead of other traffic. Keep this space free for cyclists. Motorists could be fined £100 and receive three points on their licence for crossing the advanced stop line on a red light
- Driving in tunnels. Don't overtake or change lanes unless directed to do so by a road sign. Don't stop in the tunnel unless instructed to do so or in an emergency. If you break down, get to the walkway and use the emergency phone. Don't attempt to change a wheel or push your vehicle - wait for assistance
Using a mobile device while driving
It has been illegal to use a handheld mobile phone or electronic device while driving, or while stopped with the engine on, since 2003.
The law says:
- It's illegal to use a handheld mobile phone or electronic device when driving. This includes using your device to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you're stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic
- You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked with the engine switched off or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency, and it's unsafe or impractical to stop
- Using hands-free (where the phone is in a cradle or you are using earphones or a Bluetooth connection) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted by the police
- It is illegal to use handheld microphones or to hold your phone out on loudspeaker
The use of apps, for example for navigation, on a cradle-mounted phone is lawful if done with common sense and good judgement. The government offers further guidance on this web page.
Between 6 April 2016 and 27 February 2017 there were 9,560 mobile phone offences in London, while in 2015, 2 people were killed and 5 seriously injured in collisions where a mobile phone was a contributory factor.
Since 1 March 2017, the penalties for the use of handheld mobile devices while driving have increased to six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine. Having points on your licence could increase the cost of your insurance and you can be banned from driving if you get 12 points in three years. If you get 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
Mounting your device
Many drivers use their phones hands-free as navigation devices. It's important to understand the rules about where they can be safely mounted.
You shouldn't put or fix anything on your windscreen that will obscure your view of the road ahead.
If you place a cradled device on the area on your windscreen that is covered by your wipers (also known as the 'swept area'), you are committing an offence. At present, if you're prosecuted, you face a fine of up to £100 and three points on your licence.
Driving conditions can change rapidly, and hazards such as pedestrians suddenly stepping in front of you mean you need to have a clear view of the road. Having a cluttered windscreen increases your likelihood of becoming distracted or not spotting potential dangers.
In Great Britain, if you use a suction-mounted cradle that intrudes more than 4cm into the secondary (blue) wiper clearance zone, or more than 1cm into the primary (red) zone, you are committing a serious traffic offence (Road Traffic Act 1988). Your vehicle would not be considered roadworthy and would fail an MOT.