Is it legal to use a hoverboard in the UK?
You’ve recently got yourself a hoverboard – great! Once you’ve worked out how to ride your hoverboard, you’ll want to start taking it on journeys in your local area, right? Before you hit the pavements with your shiny new hoverboard, we should probably explain the current laws on using hoverboards in the UK, and what might happen if you get caught riding one on the pavements or roads.
What does the law say about hoverboards?
Sadly, despite the popularity of hoverboards in the UK and around the world, it’s actually illegal to ride a hoverboard on public roads and pavements in the UK, and if you get caught you could end up with a fine. Despite only going on-sale in 2015, hoverboards are illegal thanks to a 182-year old law. According to the 1835 Highways Act, people cannot use the footway to “lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description” which, sadly, includes hoverboards.
The eagle eyed amongst you may note that it only mentions footways and not roads, begging the question “can you ride your hoverboard on the road like a bike?” and sadly, the answer is no to that question too.
Any motor vehicle that is used on the road in the UK needs the user to be both licensed and insured along with the vehicle itself, according to the European community whole vehicle type approval, or ECWVTA. The hoverboard must be road legal, which requires it to hit a host of conditions which frankly, it doesn’t. But why are bikes allowed to be on the road with no registration or insurance?
It’s apparently due to the inclusion of a motor – if the vehicle has a motor, it needs to be registered, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to play by the same rules. There’s currently a grey area when it comes to electric bikes, but generally speaking, bikes are okay while hoverboards aren’t.
What happens if I get caught riding my hoverboard in public?
So, what will happen if you decide to risk it and ride your hoverboard in public anyway? Chances are, nothing will happen – although we recommend only riding hoverboards on private property with permission.
It’s argued that most policemen and women in the UK wouldn’t want to waste their time on the paperwork associated with the hoverboard fine, but it’s not to say that it won’t happen.
Back in 2011, Philip Coates was fined after riding a Segway (a larger hoverboard) on the pavement.
Despite campaigns to drop the charges from former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik, the rider was slapped with a GBP75 fine, along with GBP250 costs and a GBP15 victim surcharge.