Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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What are the electric scooter laws in Iowa and Des Moines?

We received an email expressing concern about two-wheeled electric scooters and the laws surrounding them. The reader claims to have nearly hit riders five times in the space of a month and says local police informed him that these are not legal on roadways or sidewalks.

According to Vania Boyd from the Iowa DOT, electric scooters are completely legal on both roadways and sidewalks, and there are laws surrounding them. 

Electric scooters are defined in Iowa Code 321.1. “ ‘Electric personal assistive mobility device’ means a self-balancing, non-tandem two-wheeled device powered by an electric propulsion system that averages seven hundred fifty watts and is designed to transport one person, with a maximum speed on a paved level surface of less than twenty miles per hour. The maximum speed shall be calculated based on operation of the device by a person who weighs one hundred seventy pounds when the device is powered solely by the electric propulsion system.”

In short, if it has two wheels, is electric powered and can’t go faster than 20 mph, it’s a scooter. They can be operated by anyone 16 or older on sidewalks and bike paths. 

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Boyd contacted local law enforcement for their perspective and received this response. “Electric scooters may be driven on the streets with speed limits of 35 mph or slower. Furthermore, they may be operated on sidewalks and bike paths. Drivers do not need to carry a license or be insured. However, these vehicles have to be equipped with a white light on the front and a red light on the rear. If a rear red light is not utilized then a red reflector may be used in its place.”


Do I need different car insurance if I drive for Uber or Lyft?

It’s becoming more and more popular to drive for ridesharing programs like Uber or Lyft when in search of extra cash or between jobs.

Both Uber and Lyft provide their own insurance for drivers while drivers are using the app. Both operate under “third party liability” when drivers are available or waiting for a ride request, and both have the same coverage limits while drivers are waiting for a ride request or if driving someone to their destination.

According to both and, those limits are: $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident. The insurance includes $1,000,000 third-party liability and contingent comprehensive and collision up to actual cash value of the car with a $2,500 deductible when en route (excluding accidents in New York).

“Once someone contacts you to pick them up or you have already picked them up, the Uber and Lyft coverage takes over. The gap is pretty small, but the companies have added an endorsement to fill in that gap in coverage that is really inexpensive,” explains Mike Lane from Lane Insurance Agency in Norwalk. ♦

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Summer Stir - June 2024