Electric scooters – unregulated drive-through
Avoiding traffic jams and congestion in public transport, awareness of the need to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and especially the circumstances caused by the corona virus pandemic that require keeping a distance that is often impossible in public transport, caused the emergence and expansion of the use of electric scooters.
As a completely new way of transport, it found many European legislations unprepared and with unregulated conditions of use, regulations of the driving itself, speed limit and the necessary measures for safe use for both the driver and other traffic participants. Such case is with Serbia, which, despite the mass use of electric scooters, has not yet regulated their legal status, so that the electric scooter is not considered a vehicle in terms of the provisions of the current Law on Road Safety, nor the relevant bylaws dealing with vehicle classification.
Current legal status
As stated in the lines above, the electric scooter has not yet been legally recognized as a vehicle and as such has no relevant status in terms of the factual units regulated by the Road Traffic Safety Act.
On the other hand, the status of an electric scooter driver is not in such deficit of applicable legal norms. The cited law stipulates that “A traffic participant is a person who participates in traffic in any way.” Traffic is considered to be: “Movement of vehicles and persons on roads, whose behavior is regulated for the purpose of its safe and undisturbed going on”, while the same law defines the road as a “Determined area that can be used as traffic area by all or certain traffic participants, under the conditions determined by law and other regulations “.
A similar interpretation of the above legal definitions can lead to a large number of rules and restrictions for drivers of electric scooters, which apply to them as well as to all participants in traffic. In the first place, that is the ban of driving on the road. The Law clearly defines the participants in traffic that authorize them to move on the road under defined conditions. As drivers of electric scooters are undoubted participants in traffic, and they are not listed in terms of the analyzed norms, they do not have the right to ride an electric scooter on the road and thus participate in traffic.
The principle of similar interpretation can be applied in terms of compliance with all other general traffic rules that apply undividedly to all participants and regulate traffic in total.
For now, electric scooters are driven unhindered on sidewalks and pedestrian zones without any restrictions in terms of speed and due attention to other traffic participants. Scooters are currently driven in cities without legal obstacles and other restrictions prescribed at the local government level. Except in Kraljevo. If you drive an electric scooter through the marked pedestrian zones in the city of Kraljevo in accordance with the Decision on technical regulation of traffic on the territory of the city of Kraljevo, you are committing a misdemeanor for which is determined a fine in the range of 5,000 to 75,000 dinars for individuals. The answer to the question of whether this is a good solution will vary from the point of view and from the point of the goods that have priority in protection.
Responsibility of electric scooter drivers
As explained in the paragraphs above, scooter drivers can be held liable for traffic violations in cases where it is prescribed that the subject of the offense can be anyone, not a specific participant in traffic, in addition with the already mentioned violation prescribed by the Decision on technical regulation of traffic on the territory of the city of Kraljevo. It is interesting to point out that according to the available information, no one has yet been held liable for the misdemeanor prescribed by the decision of the city of Kraljevo.
In case of causing damage by the electric scooter itself or driving an electric scooter in a manner that resulted in damage, electric scooter drivers would be liable under the provisions of the Law on Obligations and on the basis of liability for damage from dangerous things, and compensation would be owed to general rules for compensation in a litigation in front of a court of general jurisdiction over a private lawsuit of the damaged.
Perspectives of legal regulations
It is more than certain that the first subsequent amendments to the Law on Road Traffic Safety will also cover the matter of electric scooters. According to currently available data from the Traffic Safety Agency, the draft amendments to the law would envisage that electric scooters can be driven on sidewalks and pedestrian zones, no faster than the walking speed, which averages 6 kilometers per hour. However, there are disagreements regarding the public areas where electric scooters will be allowed to ride, because some experts believe that pedestrian zones must be reserved exclusively for pedestrians. Comparative law practice shows different solutions, so somewhere electric scooters can be driven on the road. Such a solution is unlikely in Serbia.
It is expected that the mentioned amendments to the law will prescribe a range of safety conditions, both for the drivers themselves and for other traffic participants, as well as appropriate legal sanctions for all types of prohibited and contrary to the law behavior.
It is certain that the interests of environmental protection and the right to a healthy environment will have a decisive factor in making decisions related to electric scooters. On the wings of these interests, it would be expected to adopt a strategy that would also aim to traffic relieve. Time will be the judge whether the expectations would come true.