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What precautions should young children take on electric scooters?

Patinetes eléctricos, ¿qué precauciones deben seguir los más pequeños?

13/08/2018

We are seeing more and more types of electric scooters on the streets and in the parks, ranging from the most basic ones to more complicated and technological ones. They come in all shapes and sizes, are used by both children and adults, and last Christmas it was the most sought after gift in many households.You will come across them in toy shops but they are not in fact toys and we should take certain precautions when letting children use them.  There is also certain legislation regarding them that we should know about.

From the point of view of the Department of Traffic, this type of vehicle is listed under the definition of Personal mobility vehicles, therefore they are not considered to be motor vehicles and you do not need a license to drive them. You are also not required to take out insurance. It is the city councils who govern their usage, and this is our first obligation as parents: to check the local legislation for this type of vehicle. This means that the town hall should authorize their use on pavements, pedestrian areas, parks or walkways, or allow them on cycle and bicycle routes. In this case we will have to abide by the rules of the road traffic legislation. We should, for example, remember that, they are not allowed on many waterfronts or pavements, meaning you should travel on the road or bike lane.

What happens while there is no clear legislation about this?

As we might imagine, since there is no clear regulation on this, as parents, we are responsible for our children's use of electric scooters. Firstly, typical recommendations usually indicate that electric scooters are not to be used by children under 10 years old. If they are under adult supervision this could be lowered to 8 years old. For higher-powered scooters, (500W or more) they should only be used by those aged 12 and above. 

Generally speaking, regardless of how relatively little power the electric scooter might be, adult supervision is recommended for children under the age of 8. Children under this age do not calculate distances well, or have enough strength or understand their own abilities. If they are traveling in areas close to traffic they run the risk of losing control quite easily. 

With very young children, it is best that they use electric scooters in areas away from traffic and under adult supervision. Moreover, we should make sure the scooter is well maintained, that the child is wearing protective clothing and they are observing the rules of the road.

In terms of their protection, it is very important that young children enjoy using their scooters with a helmet on, with elbow and kneepads and even gloves to prevent cutting their hands if they fall. Depending on the type of vehicle, typical injuries will vary, although we can say that the most affected zones are usually the knees, wrists and face.

If the scooter is used outside of enclosed areas, the child should know the city's legislation (where he or she can ride it and how to do so). In order for them to stay safe, and for our own peace of mind, the child should be aware of basic road safety rules and rules of the road, but when it comes to very small children it is always best that they use them in areas where there are no cars driving around.

We should not forget something as important as checking that the scooter is duly approved and has the CE marking as a guarantee of quality and safety. Checking it over first, and ensuring it is well-maintained is worth doing before going out on the scooter, above all in terms of the battery, the state of the wheels, and ensuring everything is tightly screwed in place, in order to avoid incidents. 

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