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E-Scooter Laws in Pennsylvania


Electric scooters are becoming a regular staple of short-distance travel in cities around the United States. Particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic and commuters’ rightful hesitancy to take public transit, scooters are seen as an easy, affordable, contagion-free and environmentally-friendly alternative to taking a taxi or bus. A number of ride-sharing apps like Lime and Bird allow for easy rental, offering Uber or Lyft-like easy access to an e-scooter. Not all cities and states are embracing the wave of e-scooters, however. They can be dangerous, particularly given limited safety requirements and a lack of efficient means to enforce what safety regulations may exist. Pennsylvania has taken a particularly hard line against e-scooters. Read on for a discussion of Pennsylvania’s e-scooter laws, and call a knowledgeable Chestnut Hill traffic accident lawyer for help after a scooter accident in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Treats E-Scooters as Motor-Driven Cycles

Pennsylvania does not have a separate law governing the use of electric scooters. Instead, PA law considers e-scooters to be “motor-driven cycles,” which are subject to several specific requirements. Essentially, PA requires e-scooters to follow the same rules and regulations as motorcycles. That means e-scooters must be titled and registered, must have proper insurance coverage, and must satisfy a variety of requirements concerning equipment and inspection. For example, motorcycles must have fenders, turn signals, lights, and other equipment to be considered road-safe

Rideshare E-Scooters Are Effectively Banned in PA

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), for a motor scooter to legally operate on PA roadways, it must generally meet the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) for a motorcycle. The scooter must have the manufacturer’s certification label demonstrating that it meets FMVSS standards and must have a particular certification label to be operated on highways.

The fact is that most rideshare e-scooters do not meet these requirements. E-scooters are not manufactured to be like highway-worthy motorcycles. Even if an e-scooter could meet the motorcycle requirements, it would have to be fast enough to keep up with auto traffic in order to be driven on PA roadways. The PA Vehicle Code prohibits drivers from riding vehicles that would be so slow as to impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. E-scooters typically top out at around 15-20 MPH, around the maximum speed an average cyclist can pedal per hour. That’s far below the speed of auto traffic.

Due to the restrictive requirements, e-scooters are effectively banned in Pennsylvania. Unless there is a change to the law, PA residents cannot ride e-scooters on PA roadways.

Potential Changes to PA’s E-Scooter Regulations

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers recognize that e-scooters can provide a useful alternative to auto traffic and public transportation, in addition to tax revenue. Others remain concerned that e-scooters pose too many safety issues. At least one bill has been introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to allow electric low-speed scooters to be registered with the DMV and to treat e-scooters like bicycles or electric bicycles rather than as motorcycles. No such law has yet gained significant traction in the PA legislature.

However, a recent PA budget bill allows certain qualifying cities to implement a scooter-share pilot program, opening the door for e-scooter rideshare programs. Pittsburgh is the only city in the state that qualifies for such a program, and it has been granted a two-year pilot program to test out the system. If the program takes off in Pittsburgh and officials are satisfied with the levels of safety, the state may be persuaded to expand such programs to other cities.

Get Trusted Legal Help With Your Chestnut Hill E-Scooter Injury Claim

If you have been injured in an e-scooter accident in Chestnut Hill or greater Philadelphia, contact Benedum Law at 215-LAWSUIT (215-529-7848) for a free consultation with a seasoned and trial-ready Pennsylvania personal injury attorney. We are passionate about delivering strong results, and we won’t charge a fee if we can’t recover for you.

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