With the surge in eScooter usage as a popular mode of urban transport in Queensland, there's been an increase in accidents involving riders, cars and pedestrians. Ten people have lost their lives using personal mobility devices since 2018, with 952 people seriously injured within a 2.5-year period. Just last week, a man died in a horror crash after being struck by a car in Toowoomba, with another man having died in June after clipping a gutter and falling from his scooter in Fortitude Valley.
The Evolving Landscape of eScooter Regulation in Queensland
The number of serious accidents involving eScooters has driven a trend towards more stringent regulation. In 2021, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Baily convened a roundtable discussion, bringing interested parties together to discuss scooter safety, regulation, and connectivity. This consultation process culminated in 2022 with the development of the Personal Mobility Device Safety Action Plan.
The Action Plan, which is being acted upon in stages, outlines short (1-3 months), medium (3-6 months) and long-term (6-12 months) actions to be taken to improve the safety of personal mobility devices, including eScooters.
One aspect of the Plan involved changing road rules to improve eScooter safety and as a consequence, a round of changes took effect on 1 November 2022, impacting speed limits on footpaths and shared paths, increasing fines, and taking other steps.
Queensland Police Service (QPS) have also stepped up their monitoring of eScooters. During recent school holidays, Operation Spring Break saw the QPS intensify their focus on road safety, including specific attention to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and e-scooter riders. This followed on from an operation in January of this year, which saw Police hand out 780 fines to eScooter users. This comprised of 438 fines for not wearing a helmet, 161 fines for riding on a prohibited road, 52 for exceeding the speed limit, 48 for carrying extra passengers, 23 for failing to stop at a red light and 5 for using a mobile device while riding.
The number of fines handed out for failure to wear a helmet is concerning, given that it has been estimated that more than half of scooter-related hospital admissions could potentially be avoided if the riders had been wearing helmets.
The Queensland government recently announced the next phase of eScooter reforms.
Proposed changes to the eScooters laws
The Transport and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 seeks to make changes to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (TORUM) which will affect eScooter riders. Importantly, the proposed new laws impact riders' accountability and post-incident reporting obligations.
Accountability for Careless Riding: The proposed laws will include a new section 84AA in the TORUM which makes it an offense for eScooter riders to ride without due care and attention and reasonable consideration on road-related areas. Road-related areas are intended to include footpaths, bicycle paths, shared paths, malls, nature strips, median strips, road shoulders, dedicated cycle tracks, car parks and certain public trails.
This provision is designed to improve the safety of vulnerable users in these areas and will expand the existing offence already created by section 84(2) of the TORUM, which already requires these standards of eScooter users whilst riding on a road. It should be noted that s84(1) of the TORUM also already applies to eScooter users and makes driving dangerously on an eScooter an offence.
Consistent Post-Crash Responsibilities: There's a focus on ensuring that all riders, whether they are on eScooters, bikes or other non-motor vehicle transport that moves on wheels, have consistent obligations after an accident. This includes stopping at the accident scene, rendering medical assistance, and exchanging necessary information. Amendments to sections 92 & 93 of the TORUM now expand existing post-crash responsibilities for incidents that occur on roads to road-related areas. The obligation to report incidents that occurred off-road is an already existing obligation for motor vehicle drivers who have a duty to report an incident, whether it occurred on the road or elsewhere.
Management responsibilities for minors
The provisions do not exclude minors from post-incident responsibility.
The Explanatory Memoranda to the Bill provides an acknowledgement that the amendments create obligations that could potentially be problematic for minors. Supporters of the Bill seek to rely on existing provisions to protect minors:
- Section 92(1)(b) of the TORUM balances the level of assistance a driver must provide with their capacity to do so. It requires a driver to ‘render such assistance as the driver can’ and ‘make reasonable endeavours to obtain medical and other aid’.
- A young person riding an eScooter must be at least 12 years old. If they are 12 or over but under 16, they are required to be accompanied by an adult who would presumably be able to assist the young person.
- Section 31 of the Criminal Code may be used where a driver fears for their safety and as a result did not comply, and the Bill itself provides some protection (discussed below) where the user of the eScooter is concerned about their safety.
Protection for Vulnerable Individuals: For those who feel unsafe exchanging personal information, the new laws offer the ability to report the accident directly to the police rather than providing information at the scene.
Immediate Steps After an eScooter Accident in Queensland
If you’re involved in an eScooter incident, it's vital that you understand your rights and the steps to take afterwards, especially with these recent reforms announced by the Queensland government. Until the Bill is passed, the rights and obligations of eScooter users differ depending upon whether the accident was on a road or a road-related area. However, here are some steps which can operate as a guide:
- Your Health is the Priority - Regardless of the apparent severity of the accident, seeking medical attention should be your top priority. eScooter collisions might result in injuries that aren't immediately evident.
- Gathering Crucial Information - If you're physically able and feel safe doing so, the following information should be obtained:
- Accident details – date, time, place. You may like to drop a pin on your phone showing the exact location and email that to yourself and other parties.
- Details of the riders/drivers involved in the accident – These should be provided to each other, to anyone else injured, and to the owner of any property damaged in the accident. Details include:
- Driver’s license number, where applicable;
- Vehicle Make/Model;
- Registration number;
- Owner of Vehicle’s name and address;
- Any other information necessary to identify the vehicle.
- Obtain witness details.
- Always take photographs of:
- Damage to your vehicle;
- Damage to other vehicles;
- Any other object or road feature that contributed to the accident;
- Position of the vehicles on the road or road-related area;
- Registration places if a registered vehicle is involved;
- Street signs of where the accident occurred, where relevant;
- Driver’s licences of all drivers involved who hold a current license.
- If the eScooter is a device that was hired, you must also contact the Hire company.
It is important to call the Police if anyone appears to be affected by drugs or alcohol, refuses to exchange details, or has left the scene.
- Ambulance or Police CALL 000
- Policelink CALL 131 444 or visit Police.qld.gov.au/programs/policelink/
- RACQ roadside assist CALL 13 11 11
- Murphy’s Law Accident Lawyers CALL 1800 931 561
Getting a full understanding of road rules relating to eScooter use
With rules relating to e-scooters regularly changing, it’s important to recap on rules regularly. Why not print out our handy guide?
It is also important to take the time to educate your teenagers on eScooter safety as well, remembering that they have obligations to fulfil as road users and will have additional obligations off-road once the current Bill passes. Educating them so that they are responsible users also reduces any risk of injury to them and of a claim being made in relation to the death or injury of another person resulting from their use of an eScooter.
The rules for eScooter use can feel complex, especially for teenagers. We highly recommend these videos created by the Department of Transport to assist. More detailed information can be found on the Department’s website.
- Rules for Riders – Where You Can Ride & Speed Limits
- Rules for Riders – Safety Gear
- Rules for Riders – Mobile Phone Use
- Rules for Riders – Age limits and doubling
- Rules for Riders – Safe parking
 The State of Queensland (Transport and Main Roads) (2023) Rules for personal mobility devices, Queensland Government. Available at: https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/rules/wheeled-devices/personal-mobility-devices (Accessed: 16 October 2023).
Reducing your financial risk by checking insurance coverage
You need to remember that there are two aspects of insurance – insurance for damage to the device itself and damage or injury caused by use of the device. You may be covered for one or both under the contents part of your home insurance. You will need to carefully read your contents insurance policy and/or check with your insurer about your coverage.
When asking about cover for the device itself, you will need to ask whether it’s covered for theft/damage when it’s sitting in your garage and not being ridden, and then check whether it’s covered outside of the home during use.
Cover for damage or injury caused by yourself or a child may also be covered by your contents insurance cover, as these covers almost always include a public liability insurance component - so you will need to check this as well by reading the policy and/or checking with your insurer.
If you or your child are involved in an eScooter accident, you might find yourself on the wrong end of legal proceedings. Being sued can be stressful even if you don’t think you’re in the wrong, and even if you are ultimately successful in defending yourself, you can still be out of pocket.
Some of the issues outlined in an article by River Insurance as being relevant to the level of insurance coverage that existed as part of contents coverage were:
- Confirmation that the eScooter does not require registration;
- That the eScooter was legally compliant and meets all conditions for use;
- Whether it was being used for private use only;
- Whether it was speed-limited to 25km/h and 60kg max, and
- Whether it was in use at the time of the insurance event.
As you can see, the cover is very individualised and reliant on who your insurer is.
By regulation, motorised wheelchairs have been prescribed as having gratuitous insurance cover. This was enabled by section 23(7) of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 and means that the user of such a device will be covered in the event that they are sued for injury to another person. Cover is provided by the Nominal Defendant, a Queensland state-run insurance body. No such cover has been provided to eScooter users who must manage their own legal risk.
Roadside Assistance after an accident or breakdown
For those that rely primarily on their eScooters for transport, it is worth noting that RACQ offers a roadside assistance membership called ‘RACQ Everyday Light’ that may prove useful in the event of an accident or breakdown. RACQ will travel up to 50 kilometres 4 times a year to assist you as an RACQ Everyday Light member. The annual membership of $69.00 gives you roadside assistance for your eScooter when needed and the peace of mind of knowing that if RACQ can’t get your eScooter mobile again they’ll provide transport assistance (subject to their terms). RACQ Roadside Assistance terms and conditions provide additional information on the cover.
RACQ Light Membership does not cover rented devices so in the event of an accident or breakdown it will be necessary to contact the eScooter Hire Company for Assistance. Contact details should be readily available on the eScooter itself or in the App.
For those who already have an existing RACQ Membership, it is worth checking the membership to ascertain whether you are entitled to assistance for your eScooter as part of your existing cover. Terms and Conditions for RACQ Ultra Care, RACQ Ultimate Care, and RACQ RV provide entitlements for eligible personal mobility devices. Policies change, and we recommend that you review your Policy and Policy Schedule.
With the continuous reforms, its important to keep up to date. We will update this article once the proposed laws have passed through parliament. In the meantime, it’s important always to prioritise safety and remember you have rights and resources available if involved in an accident.
Download Your Essential Scooter Rules Cheatsheet Now!
Navigating the roads and paths on your eScooter just got easier! We've compiled a comprehensive Scooter Rules Cheatsheet to ensure your rides are safe, legal, and enjoyable. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, this cheat sheet is your go-to guide for all the do's and don'ts of eScooter riding.