There are more than 150,000 Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) and 14,000 public charging points in use in Great Britain.
It is very likely that these numbers will increase in the coming years and eventually overtake the number of petrol and diesel vehicles.
The Road to Zero Strategy sets out the Government’s plans for all new cars and vans sold in the UK to be effectively zero emission and to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. By 2050, it wants almost every car and van sold to be zero emission.
In the last decade, vehicles have become increasingly autonomous, performing tasks for us such as automatically operating window wipers and lights.
Technology has also developed within vehicles to assist us with the driving task, including features such as park assist, reverse cameras, cruise control and lane assist.
The automation of vehicles is set to become more widespread, with the emergence of advanced sensing devices and new on-board processing capabilities. This will mean that less and less input is needed from the ‘human driver’ during the driving task. This could also lead to shifts in the way that cars and other vehicles are used and owned.
Electric scooters (e-scooters)
E-scooters are rising in popularity across Europe as people seek alternatives to travelling by car to reduce carbon emissions, have better mobility around congested cities and save money. They are currently illegal to use on UK roads, pavements and footpaths; in fact, at present they can only be used on private land in the UK although this may change.
Despite looking much like a standard two-wheeled scooter, e-scooters have been fitted with rechargeable batteries to make them electrified and can travel at speeds of up to 15mph.
Despite the benefits their use brings, an estimated 1,500 people in the USA have sustained an e-scooter-related injury and since late 2017, eight people there have died whilst riding a “sharing scheme” e-scooter. A similar picture may emerge if e-scooters were to be allowed on UK roads. One death has already been recorded in London.
If e-scooters were to be allowed on the highway in the UK, there would need to be a sensible balance (as with cycling) between safety considerations and mandatory safety equipment, with users being encouraged to pledge to ride safely while also restricting their use to designated areas.
In countries where e-scooters are already used widely, various approaches are being taken to address safety, including encouraging users to ride e-scooters safely and wear a helmet, introducing a minimum age for users and restricting the use of e-scooters to cycle lanes and roads.
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