E-scooter warning: Legalising devices could spark rise in house fires caused by batteries

GB News: Colin Brazier slams the use of E-scooters

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The Transport Bill in the Queen’s Speech could pave the way for private e-scooters to be legalised on roads and pavements across the country. But the move which experts believe could lead to a surge in sales has prompted warnings for people to take care when storing and charging the devices following a spate of fires linked to lithium batteries.

There was a 164 percent increase in e-scooter and e-bike fires in the capital last year, according to figures from the London Fire Brigade.

Meanwhile, insurance company Zurich has seen claims for lithium battery fires triple over three years.

Most of the blazes were caused by defective batteries, incorrect chargers and items being left on charge for too long.

London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Paul Jennings, said: “We have seen a rise in the number of fires involving e-bikes and e-scooters and its vital people are aware of the risks.

“These items are often stored and charged in escape routes in homes or communal areas so when a fire does occur, escape routes are blocked which immediately makes an already serious situation much more frightening.

“We know lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used.

“Many of these incidents involve batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.”

Alastair Thomson, head of property claims at Zurich, added: “With e-scooter numbers growing rapidly, we need to consider consumer safety at home, as well as on the road.

“Lithium battery blazes are already on the rise and it’s vital that people are aware of how they can safely store and charge the devices.

“Last year we saw multiple five-figure claims from battery blazes that left people’s homes damaged and possessions ruined.

“Lithium battery fires could become more frequent unless we do more to increase public awareness of the risks.

“We strongly urge people to buy accessories from reputable companies, follow manufacturer’s instructions on charging and avoid leaving batteries on charge when they leave the house.

“From laptops to mobile phones, lithium batteries are now so common in our homes it’s easy to overlook the hazards they pose, if not treated properly.

“Although lithium battery blazes only make up a small proportion of fire claims, it’s important people remain aware of safety when charging up electronics.”

E-scooters can currently only be used on England’s roads if they are part of trials of rental schemes, which involve safety features such as maximum speeds of 15.5mph and automatic lights.

Privately owned e-scooters are a common sight in towns and cities despite only being allowed on private land.

The Transport Bill is aimed at enabling “innovation” and providing “new choices for the public”.

As well are measures on private e-scooters, it features legislation to allow self-driving and remotely-operated vehicles and vessels.

A Government spokesperson said: “Safety will always be our top priority and our trials are helping us to better understand the benefits of properly regulated, safety-tested e-scooters and their impact on public space.

“While riding a privately owned e-scooter on public land is currently illegal, we are considering how best to design future regulations and our Transport Bill will help us to take the steps we need to make e-scooters safer and support innovation.”

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