Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have taken over the streets of Texas. They are rentable to the public for a low amount of money from companies such as Bird and Lime. San Antonio has hundreds of dockless e-scooters available for rent every day. Unfortunately, these vehicles are not as safe as many people assume. A lack of awareness of e-scooter laws in Texas contributes to many harmful e-scooter accidents.
Definition of an E-Scooter
According to Texas Transportation Code Section 551.351, a motor-assisted scooter is a self-propelled device with at least two wheels, a gas or electric motor capable of making the device travel up to 15 miles per hour, and a braking system capable of stopping the device. It also has a deck that allows a person to sit or stand while operating the vehicle and can be propelled by human power alone. An e-scooter is not the same as an electric bicycle, moped or motorcycle in the eyes of the law in Texas. Motor-assisted scooters have their own rules and regulations.
Age Limits for Riding
In Texas, a rider must be 16 years or older to ride an e-scooter. Most e-scooter companies require riders to have valid driver’s licenses and upload photographs of these licenses before they can rent the device. However, many users get around this requirement by having someone older, such as a parent or guardian, rent the e-scooter for them. This is a dangerous practice that can increase the risk of accidents.
Helmets are strongly encouraged while riding e-scooters in San Antonio, but they are not a legal requirement. This is similar to Texas’ bicycle helmet stance, which is that all riders, regardless of age, may operate bicycles without wearing helmets. The only exception is if a city or municipality has a law requiring bike helmets. San Antonio does not have such a law for operating dockless e-scooters. The city strongly encourages helmets, however, as they can drastically reduce the risk of serious and fatal head injuries.
Riding Rules in San Antonio
The e-scooter laws that are broken the most often, and that lead to the most traffic accidents, are riding rules. Riding rules give e-scooter operators guidelines they must follow for safe and prudent vehicle operation. They dictate what a rider can and cannot do while interacting with other roadway users, such as motorists and pedestrians. Some of the most important state and citywide e-scooter laws in San Antonio are:
- Riders must obey all state and city roadway rules.
- E-scooters must ride in the street or bicycle lanes.
- Riding a scooter in the street is only legal on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
- No e-scooters on sidewalks.
- No e-scooters in Alamo Plaza, the Riverwalk, La Villita, Main Plaza, Market Square, or city parks and trails in San Antonio.
- Only one person per e-scooter.
- Riders must grant pedestrians the right-of-way.
- Riders cannot use cell phones while operating e-scooters.
- Riders should not park e-scooters in the middle of sidewalks, in bicycle lanes, in the street or in the way of pedestrians.
Following these rules can reduce the risk of e-scooter accidents. Riders should also use tactics such as wearing brightly colored clothing for maximum visibility, riding in the same direction as traffic, maintaining a safe speed for conditions, using hand signals to turn and never riding on highways. Paying attention to the road and riding prudently can also decrease the odds of an accident.
Injured in an E-Scooter Accident? Get Help
If you get injured in an e-scooter accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation from the other party’s insurance provider. One or more parties may be financially responsible for your medical bills and other losses. Protect your legal rights by contacting an auto accident attorney as soon as possible.
An attorney can help you understand and exercise your rights during insurance claim negotiations or an injury trial. An attorney can also use proven legal strategies to fight for maximum financial recovery on your behalf.