Brian White | January 26, 2023 | Texas Laws
The popularity and usage of e-scooters, commonly referred to as “electric scooters,” are on the rise. These small, battery-powered vehicles are similar to traditional kick scooters, typically having two wheels, a handlebar for steering, and a platform for the rider to stand on.
However, unlike kick scooters, e-scooters are powered by small electric motors, hence the name. These motors allow riders to reach higher speeds and travel longer distances than what would be feasibly achievable with conventional kick scooters.
E-scooters have become a common form of short-distance transportation, particularly in cities like Houston; they can be rented through a variety of dockless scooter-sharing services. Riders can walk up and select the scooter they like and pay to rent it for a set amount of time through a mobile app.
These small vehicles have also become popular as a way to reduce traffic congestion and help with carbon emissions, providing a more convenient way to move around large, urban areas.
Using E-Scooters on Sidewalks in Houston
Despite (or perhaps given) their immense popularity, in March 2021, the Houston City Council passed a ban on the use of e-scooters in the following locations:
- Parking areas
- Downtown property owned by the city
People are still able to use e-scooters in Houston’s downtown area, but they must keep the vehicles on public roadways. Those who fail to stay on the roads may face a monetary fine.
Scooter Rental Locations
A common trend amongst e-scooter companies is to set up rental hubs on the sidewalks in front of public properties, and when riders are done riding and paying for the use of the scooter, scooter companies allow them to leave the vehicle anywhere for another rider to pick up.
The city of Houston has begun to regulate this type of activity. Businesses that rent scooters are not legally permitted to indicate mobile rental spots on public grounds. Instead, they must situate their scooter rental hubs on privately-owned properties, which makes it more likely that e-scooter rental businesses will have storefronts.
Houston’s regulations are intended to keep public walkways free of electric scooters, given that the city received many reports of scooter collisions, injured pets, and other mishaps due to their increased appearance on public walkways.
Insurance Coverage for E-Scooter Accidents
The e-scooter trend gained popularity seemingly overnight, and because of the swift adoption of the e-scooter throughout Houston, the city’s legislative infrastructure has struggled to adapt swiftly.
Most electric scooter companies make it clear that riders use these vehicles at their own risk. Some e-scooter companies explicitly state that they cannot be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages, and in many cases, car insurance policies do not cover injured riders of e-scooters.
For these reasons, it is critical to understand the regulations relating to electric scooter use in Houston.
DWI Regulations and E-Scooters
Under Texas state law, any vehicle that uses public roadways is considered to be a “motor vehicle,” which means that e-scooters are subject to the same rules and regulations as automobiles.
With that being said, you should never rent or ride an electric scooter if you have recently consumed alcohol or used drugs. Riders who use e-scooters while under the influence of any controlled substance may face significant penalties. E-scooter riders have the same implied duty of care as other motorists on all of Texas’ roadways.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer if You’ve Been Injured
Some people believe that e-scooters are not subject to the same traffic laws as other vehicles, but that viewpoint is the result of common misconceptions. It is critical to follow the rules of the road when riding an electric scooter in Houston. Following all traffic lights, signs, and directions will keep you as safe as possible.
If you have been injured in a scooter accident in Houston, it is vital to consult with a Texas personal injury attorney. The at-fault party may owe you significant monetary damages.
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
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Houston, TX 77029
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Houston, TX 77054