Mobility scooters are often the only thing standing between disabled people and social isolation, as they allow those with mobility problems to maintain their ties with the outside world, while maintaining their independence.
Unfortunately, one possible obstacle to increased mobility scooter use is the confusion regarding legal responsibilities and regulations that govern where mobility scooters can be driven, whether they need to be licensed and whether the same rules apply in the UK and abroad.
Where can I drive my mobility scooter?
It depends on what class mobility scooter you have. Class 2 mobility vehicles (powered wheelchairs) can be driven on footways and pavements but not roads.
Class 3 mobility vehicles (mobility scooters) can be driven on footways, pavements and roads.
What about speed?
Class 2 mobility vehicles have a maximum speed limit of 4mph. It is illegal to drive faster than 4mph on pavements and footways.
Class 3 mobility vehicles have a maximum speed limit of 8mph.
What are the rules of the road?
When driving on the road, mobility scooters need to travel in the same direction as the traffic and obey the same rules as motorists. This includes indicator use and ‘headlights’ when it gets dark. Motorists, especially lorry drivers, may not always see mobility scooters, so if you drive a mobility scooter you have to do 2 things:
1) Make yourself as visible as possible – wear bright colours and reflective vests.
2) Be twice as aware and think for the other drivers – indicate early, take corners slowly and double check for oncoming traffic.
If you feel unsafe or the road narrows and you will no longer be safe on the road, move onto the pavement and slow your speed appropriately (remember the 4mph limit).
When you’re on the pavement, remember to take pedestrians into account and be as aware of them as you would like motorists to be of you.
Stay off motorways, dual carriages and any road where the speed limit is greater than 50mph.
Insurance, license and registration
Currently, you don’t need insurance for your mobility scooter, even if you drive on public roads. It’s better to err on the side of caution by getting third party liability cover so you’re at least protected against any injury or damage they accidentally or indirectly cause to other people and property. Comprehensive mobility scooter insurance is far more affordable than having to pay for damages in a lawsuit or to completely replace your vehicle. Policies are available for approximately £55 per year from companies like www.surewise.com.
You don’t need a license to drive a mobility scooter on the road, but you do need to register your Class 3 mobility scooter (max. speed of 8mph). You will receive a tax disc which you have to display on your mobility scooter; however, you don’t have to pay road tax.
You can apply for registration of a Class 3 Invalid Carriage by completing a V55/4 form for a new vehicle, or a V55/5 for a used vehicle. You can get the forms online from the DVLA.
Are the rules the same in the EU?
At the moment, the rules regarding mobility scooters in the EU are the same as for the UK. However, insurance could become compulsory if an EU directive comes into effect. According to the directive, you will need third party liability insurance for your mobility scooter. And, if the directive comes into effect in the EU, UK regulations are also likely to change.
Credits: Richard Hannan from Surewise.com