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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/powered-transporters/information-sheet-guidance-on-powered-transporters
This information sheet provides guidance to help retailers, manufacturers, importers and dealers understand the law on novel lightweight transport devices used to transport a single person (powered transporters).
Powered transporters include a variety of novel personal transport devices, such as Segway, Swegways, Hoverboards, U-wheels, powered mini scooters (go-peds) and powered unicycles.
1. Using powered transporters
Powered transporters can be used on private property, as long as you have the permission of the landowner.
1.1 On pavements
Powered transporters cannot be used on the pavement. The same applies to a car, moped, or bicycle. There is nothing in law permitting these vehicles to be used on the pavement. These vehicles are classed as carriages under the 1835 Highways Act, which prohibits carriages from the pavement (footway).
1.2 On roads
To be used on the road (carriageway), these vehicles would need to be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), licensed (taxed), insured, and a helmet worn. A driving licence would also be required. These vehicles require registration because they are classed as motor vehicles. They have an engine, whether combustion or electric motor, and thus are mechanically propelled.
2. Registering powered transporters
DVLA will not register vehicles without proof of type approval. For most powered transporters, their construction is such that they clearly would not comply with the normal vehicle construction rules or with type approval.
3. Construction requirements
There may be certain designs which are capable of meeting the construction requirements: for example a stand-on vehicle with 3 wheels, that is fitted with brakes and lights. In this case the vehicle can be submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MVSA). If the vehicle passes, then it can be registered and used on the road under the same conditions as any other vehicle with the same number of wheels.
4. Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MVSA)
MSVA is carried out by the DVSA.
In Northern Ireland, MSVA will be carried out by the local Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) rather than DVSA.
5. Classification of powered transporters
Below are examples of case law that have set precedents for the classification of these vehicles.
5.1 Mini Scooters (Go-Peds)
2 sets of case law have set precedents for the classification of these vehicles: The High Court judgement handed down by Lord Justice Pill and Mr Justice Bell on 26 October 2000 (Chief Constable of the North Yorkshire Police v Michael Saddington) found that a Go-Ped, which is a scooter powered by an internal combustion engine, is a motor vehicle within the meaning of Section 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended). It stated that a “Go-Ped, which is considered to be a mechanically propelled vehicle, is intended for use on roads within the meaning of the Statute”.
A High Court judgement handed down by Mr Michael Supperstone QC, on 10 July 2002 (Letitia Winter v DPP) involving the use of an electric scooter on the road, confirmed the view that these are motor vehicles. The judgement upheld that the electric scooter in question known as the City Bug was a motor vehicle and subject to the requirements for compulsory insurance.
The case also proved that the City Bug was not an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC). Consideration was given to the size and position of the (token) pedals, which rendered it difficult to use the pedals as a primary source of motive power. It was thus judged that the City Bug was not “fitted with pedals by means of which it is capable of being propelled” within the meaning of Regulation 4 (b) of the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983.
It is clear from the judgement in the case of ‘Chief Constable of the North Yorkshire Police v Michael Saddington’ that it was accepted by all parties that the particular machine in question would not comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended). Whilst this was not a question on which the Court was asked to rule, the Justices did find, “that considerable work would be required to bring this Go-Ped up to Construction and Use Regulation and UK vehicle safety standards so as to satisfy road traffic legislation relating to minor vehicles”.
A recent high court judgement handed down by Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Longstaff on 18 January 2011 - Crown Prosecution Service v Phillip Coates - involved the use of a Segway on the pavement. The only issue for the District Judge was the determination of whether a Segway falls within the definition of a motor vehicle in section 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, that is “a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on the roads”. It was agreed that a Segway is both a mechanically propelled vehicle as well as intended or adapted for road use and therefore Mr Coates was found guilty for committing the offense and fined.
6. Useful links
See the EU regulations on motorcycles.
7. Further information
If you require any further information regarding the content of this information sheet, please contact the DfT using one of the below:
- address: International Vehicle Standards, Department for Transport, Zone 1/34, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR
- telephone: 020 7944 2091
- fax: 020 7944 2196
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The information in this document is a summary of the Department’s understanding of what the law requires. However, ultimately the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts based on individual facts of any particular case, you are therefore advised to consult the relevant legislation and, if necessary, seek independent advice.