New rules and training for personal mobility vehicles (VMP) in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson

The landscape of personal mobility in Spain is undergoing a significant transformation, with the rise of electric scooters and other Personal Mobility Vehicles (VMP).

The Spanish National Police recently issued a press release highlighting the new regulations and training initiatives for VMP, emphasising safety and compliance with standards.

New regulations effective 22 January 2024

Starting from January 22 this year, the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) will require that all VMP, including electric scooters, sold in Spain meet specific standards. However, a notable aspect is that older scooters are allowed to continue operating until 2027.

The electric scooter boom

The electric scooter has become a central figure in the world of personal mobility, making headlines and gaining popularity. According to the Spanish Federation of Personal Mobility Vehicles, there are already approximately 5 million electric scooters in Spain. This marks a significant increase compared to the pre-2020 era. At that time, such devices were often viewed as children’s toys. That is no longer the case!

Regulatory changes

The rapid growth of the market and the conflicts arising from the interaction between electric scooters and other road users prompted regulatory adjustments. As of 22 January 2024, it is no longer permissible to sell electric scooters that do not meet the quality and safety standards outlined in the DGT’s January 12, 2022 resolution, which approved the manual of specific characteristics for personal mobility vehicles.

Key regulations for electric scooters

The recent changes in the General Traffic Regulations treat electric scooters as vehicles, subjecting them to general traffic rules. This includes alcohol prohibition, a ban on using headphones while riding, and a restriction on riding on pavements. Additionally, a maximum speed limit of 25 km/h has been set. Furthermore, the circulation of electric scooters on main roads (carreteras) is prohibited.

Reinforcing education

Recognising the need to educate users, especially considering the increasing number of younger and less experienced riders, the DGT is actively working on a pilot training project. Therefore, the aim is to provide free training, similar to programs implemented in other European countries. Moreover, this will address various aspects of electric scooter usage and safety.

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Director of the Traffic Department, Pere Navarro, emphasised the importance of education during a Senate Interior Commission meeting, stating, “We have given it the legal status of a vehicle. Therefore, this means, first, no alcohol. Second, no headphones. And third, no riding on pavements.”

Certification and identification requirements

As of 22 January 2024, all new VMP, including electric scooters, must come with a certification of circulation and identification. While this documentation ensures compliance with technical requirements, older VMP can continue to operate until January 22, 2027.

Free training initiatives

To achieve the goal of safer mobility, the DGT is developing a pilot training program covering various aspects of electric scooter usage, from selecting the right VMP for specific journeys to safely performing maneuvers statistically identified as the most dangerous.

Cristina Fernández Casas, Director of the Traffic Education Center in Salamanca, highlighted the need for comprehensive training, stating, “Our course is developed on the Moodle platform to allow mass access. The idea is to offer it for free to various administrations and anyone who requests it.”

Preventing accidents

Despite their seemingly minor nature, electric scooters have been involved in a significant number of accidents. In 2022 alone, Spain witnessed 299 accidents with scooters, resulting in 12 fatalities. The actual number of accidents may be higher, considering unreported incidents leading to hospitalisation. Therefore, awareness and education are crucial to preventing injuries and ensuring responsible riding.

Checking for certification

Certification is now mandatory for all newly commercialised scooters to legally operate in Spain. Prospective buyers can verify the certification by checking the marking plate or reduced technical characteristics sheet. The DGT’s online list of certified brands and models, helps consumers ensure they are purchasing a certified and compliant electric scooter.

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