Ross telling retailers to inform e-scooter buyers of law is ‘nanny state gone mad’

‘A car salesman is not going to sit down with you and explain the rules of the road’

The use of e-scooters is illegal on public roads or in public places in Ireland. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The use of e-scooters is illegal on public roads or in public places in Ireland. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

Retailers have described as “nanny-state gone mad” a statement by Minister for Transport Shane Ross saying they are obliged to tell customers buying e-scooters that these vehicles are illegal on public roads.

The devices have been growing in popularity and while some users have been stopped and had their scooters seized warnings that they are illegal has not curbed their usage.

Mr Ross recently started a two-month public consultation process seeking views on whether their use should be legalised or remain banned.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Ross said retailers selling e-scooters, segways or hoverboards were obliged to inform customers the vehicles could only be legally used private property.

“The use of these mechanically propelled vehicles is illegal on public roads/in public places,” he said.

“E-Scooters and similar vehicles are defined as mechanically propelled vehicles.

“As such, before they can be used on public roads/in public places they must be covered by insurance, have motor tax and the driver appropriately licensed to operate them.

“Due to the nature of these vehicles, under existing road traffic law they are only suitable for use on private property.

“It is critically important that suppliers and retailers inform prospective purchasers that such vehicles can only be used on private property.

“In addition, suppliers and retailers are reminded that the supply (which includes sale, hire, loan, gift etc) of a mechanically propelled vehicle (including eScooters and such vehicles) to someone under the age of 16 is prohibited.”

David Fitzsimons, group chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, which represents more than 2,000 retailers in the Irish market, disputed there was an onus on shops to inform customers about the law.

“Retailers are not obliged to inform customers about their use, in the same way that if you bought a quad bike, or a motor bike, or a car, the salesman is not going to sit down with you and explain the rules of the road,” he said.

“People are mature adults. They should understand the law and use these products in a safe and responsible way.

“It would be the equivalent of a company selling a hammer and explaining to the person that they should be careful not to hit their finger. It’s nanny-state gone mad. Customers have to adopt a responsible approach.

“That said, if the product is potentially dangerous, there should be a responsible approach from the retailer.

“I don’t think it would be too laborious or difficult to potentially create a very simple pamphlet explaining where they should be used.”