Road traffic insurance to apply to e-scooters in Estonia from year-end

A Bolt e-scooter, not parked in the correct location (ie. in a cycle lane in this case).
A Bolt e-scooter, not parked in the correct location (ie. in a cycle lane in this case). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

From the end of this year, road traffic insurance will apply to e-scooter riders in Estonia, thanks to a European Union directive which will also provide better scope for compensation for pedestrians and others hit by e-scooter riders.

This will be the case from the end of the year, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.

The rule applies to privately owned e-scooters and rental variants, in Estonia operated by Bolt and Tuul, alike.

Hindrek Allvee, road and rail adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said: "If this scooter meets the conditions to which this insurance obligation extends, then such a scooter must be covered by traffic insurance."

However, the regulation would require an e-scooter's top speed be over 25 km/h (or 14 km/h in heavier models weighing over 25kg), whereas Bolt rental scooters, for instance, have a top speed somewhat less than this – depending on the weight of the occupant also.

In any case the top speeds can be tweaked, and indeed are in certain areas such as near schools, where the speed is reduced automatically as based on GPS location.

Taavi Kirss, head of traffic supervision at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Northern Prefecture, said: "In most cases, an e-scooter rider is culpable in accidents. Typically this involves them hitting a pothole of some description, or riding while under the influence of alcohol."

In general, e-scooter riders, in Tallinn at least, often ride on sidewalks, maintaining full speed even as pedestrians are present – a malpractice also commonly seen employed by food courier cyclists working for companies such as Wolt.

Cycle lanes are often, though not always, set aside for e-scooter riders as well as cyclists – though conversely, these often see pedestrians straying into them, sometimes when the lanes are not clearly delineated, or parked vehicles obstructing the way.

At present, if a pedestrian is hit by an e-scooter and if the e-scooter rider is at fault, there is little opportunity for redress.

Traffic lawyer Indrek Sirk told AK that the top legal speed for e-scooters is 25 km/h (see above), while riders should slow to match the speed of nearby pedestrians, when these are present.

While legal recourse is in theory possible – for injury, medical costs, damaged property and lost earnings – this is not currently covered by traffic law and would be a lengthy and costly process, potentially to the extent of rendering it pointless.

This is particularly the case if the e-scooter rider then rides off from the scene of the accident they may have caused.

Hindrek Allvee at the economic affairs ministry told AK that if an individual violated traffic rules and can be identified, seeking compensation via a civil law route is viable.

The relevant legislation is the Road Traffic Act.

If the incident led to serious injury or other damage, the Penal Code also covers this.

Allvee added that an additional bill was under process which would provide local government with greater leeway in setting its own speed limits on light vehicles such as e-scooters.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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