Uncontrolled electric powered rental scooters on Brisbane footpaths are a nightmare on wheels and users could be liable if they injure pedestrians with them.
Mr Johnson says there’s growing concern of the safety risks posed by the nimble scooters, which can reach speeds of 27 km/h.
The scooters can be hired using an app and are currently operating under a special permit, set to expire on December 31, 2018, which has allowed Lime to roll out up to 500 scooters in the Brisbane CBD, South Brisbane, West End, Fortitude Valley and the immediate surrounding suburbs.
Trent says effectively what we have is 500 mobile transport devices required to be used on footpaths with little or no regulation of how they are used or where they are left.
“The person who has hired the scooter via the App will generally be liable in those circumstances as they bear legal responsibility for it.
“Given the scooters can be ridden by children they should be supervised by an adult and the supervising adult (who is presumably the person hiring the scooter under the app) would be responsible unless there is a fault with the scooter, in which case Lime scooters would be liable,” he says.
He’s aware of many other near misses on the pavements and says it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt due to inexperience or incompetence.
Trent Johnson says if a person operating an e-scooter crashes the scooter into another person, the person operating the scooter is liable. But this could be complicated if they flee from the scene. Whether their details would voluntarily be provided by Lime without a court issued notice to produce or a subpoena is another issue.
“Given the speed of the scooters, they should fall under the classification of a vehicle in the transport operations road rules. In that case, they would be subject to all of the normal rules and regulations for a vehicle. Despite this, I note that the transport minister Mark Bailey has granted an exemption from certain road safety regulations until 31 December 2018.
“While no doubt the police will be on the lookout for riders doing the wrong thing there is currently a significant grey area as to the use of the scooters. At present they are effectively being treated in the same category as a pushbike, skateboard or self-propelled scooter although they are capable of travelling at 27 km/h which places them in the category of a vehicle.
At present, we are seeing users of the scooters weaving between pedestrians and I have no doubt that we will see accidents and injuries before the scheme trial ends.
“The other and quite concerning issue is that given the scooters have been granted an exemption and are presently not classed as vehicles for the purposes of our road rules and regulations, should someone be seriously injured by someone else riding a scooter, their injuries would not be covered under the Queensland CTP scheme, no matter how severe,” Trent adds.
He believes the Brisbane City Council (‘BCC’) and Queensland Transport should be regulating the use of the scooters as vehicles and there should be a requirement that the scooters are parked in certain locations.
Also, it’s not clear how much, if any, information Lime will provide to assist in the investigation of accidents/injuries involving the use of their scooters.
Therefore part of the hire fees for the scooters should be collected as CTP insurance premiums due to likely injuries from them. In the absence of insurance, claims will necessarily be pursued against the three obvious entities; the rider/hirer, Lime and the BCC.
Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).