Monday, 9 december 2019 | Redacción CEU
In recent years, scooters have gone from being considered simple toys to valued means of transport. Thanks to them, citizens can avoid traffic jams at rush hours and crowds in public transport, travel comfortably and autonomously and drive in an ecological and sustainable way. However, in some cases, the lack of skill on the part of users and the absence of uniform rules have had a negative effect on road safety and the harmony in cities. This is something that The National Department of Traffic in Spain intends to address with its latest proposal. What does it consist of?
More and more people use e-scooters, unicycles or segways as an alternative means of transport. This is why the National Department of Traffic (DGT by its initials in Spanish) has not wanted to wait for their formal regulation and has issued a provisional instruction that includes the rules of use that the drivers of these personal mobility vehicles must follow. This advanced initiative mainly responds to the request made by traffic police officers who, in many cities, have witnessed situations that have negatively affected road safety, and especially the most vulnerable groups.
In this provisional regulation, the DGT explains that personal mobility vehicles are vehicles with one or more wheels, which are designed for the use of a single person and propelled exclusively by electric motors. They can reach a maximum speed of 25 km/h. According to this definition, vehicles which are designed for the use of people with reduced mobility, competition vehicles, scooters with seats or mopeds are not personal mobility vehicles. In addition, in this classification, the DGT dispel the doubts concerning when a vehicle like this should be considered a toy: only when it does not exceed 6km/h.
Personal mobility vehicles do not need an administrative authorization to be driven. Consequently, DGT’s regulation specifies that as long as it is clear that they are vehicles of this type, no points will be deducted from driving records. Furthermore, drivers do not need to take out an insurance policy to use them. Some experts point out that the DGT has missed a unique opportunity by forgetting to include in this provisional regulation the need to subscribe a third-party insurance, as it is key to compensate the damages caused in accidents.
What this instruction does include is a penalty system that establishes fines for the improper use of these means of transport. They range from 100 to 1,000 euros and the most serious penalties are those related to the use of drugs and alcohol. If drivers exceed the allowed alcohol rate, they face fines between 500 and 1,000 euros (depending on the concentration they reach) and 1,000 euros when there is drug presence in their bodies. In both situations, their vehicles will be immobilized, as it happens with other vehicles. Drivers cannot refuse to undergo these tests. If they do it, they will be penalized with an administrative infraction.
In turn, drivers must not get on them when using their cellphones or any other communication systems. Nor can they drive using headphones which are connected to receiving devices or audio players. In the event of non-compliance, drivers face fines of 200 euros.
These vehicles must not move around pedestrian areas and sidewalks. Only skateboards, roller skates or similar devices can be used on them, as long as they move at a people's pace. The drivers who use personal mobility vehicles at night without lighting, clothes or reflective elements are acting negligently and their behavior can be punishable. In these situations, drivers can be sanctioned with fines of 200 euros. On the other hand, the drivers who transport a passenger can also be penalized with fines of 100 euros, since these are vehicles which are designed for the transport of a single person.
One of the most controversial aspects about the regulation of this vehicles is the one concerns their parking place. In this regulation, the DGT states that this piece of legislation is exclusively local. However, it shows a bias in favor of sidewalks for pedestrians. In regard to the use of helmets and other protective elements, the decision of the corresponding municipal ordinances also prevails. If they consider it mandatory, the penalty will be 200 euros.
Until now, municipal authorities have been in charge of regulating the use of this kind of vehicles. The DGT intends with this regulation to clarify what the rules of their use should be until the corresponding regulations are approved.
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