The mobility scooter has proved to be a fantastic living aid for so many people worldwide. The majority of users operate their equipment respectfully and within the law. However, in recent years there has been some publicity based around the number of accidents involving a mobility scooter.
We thought we'd clarify the current laws, restrictions and any issues surrounding their use in built up public areas.
Anyone over the age of 14 can walk into a shop and buy one, but who's to say they won't be a danger to themselves or others? Let's be honest, most of us have been in the local town centre and seen some form of incident involving a mobility scooter. Please don't think we're just targeting the users. The problem is that unlike cars, scooters aren't subject to regular official safety inspections, they can be sold without any training given and there is no legal requirement to have insurance.
In the last 6 years we've seen the number of mobility scooters on the UK's streets soar from around 70,000 to around 350,000 making us the mobility scooter capital of Europe. In Holland, although there are less mobility scooters on the roads than the UK they are subject to their road traffic laws. Surprisingly, the UK Government hasn't collected any statistics related to mobility scooters leaving the Department for Transport reliant on the BHTA's (British Healthcare Trades Association) estimated figures.
Some local police forces have started running voluntary training sessions for mobility scooter owners. These sessions cover all basic controls and manoeuvres and have certain elements of an actual driving test. However, due to there still being no criteria or formal test in place for mobility users there is no 'Pass' or 'Fail' at the end of the course. The aim is simply to raise awareness of possible dangers surrounding their use. An instructor from one of these sessions said: "People who use them say they are easy to drive but judging by the number of crumpled cones on the test track there is more to it than meets the eye". These sessions aren't just for the new users, they're also proving popular with more experienced users who want to improve their overall control or practice a specific manoeuvre or two.
Mobility equipment is defined as being either a Class 1, 2 or 3 invalid carriage. Here are the definitions:
Class 1 invalid carriages are manually operated wheelchairs.
Class 2 invalid carriages are powered mobility scooters or power chairs that are NOT permitted to be used on the roads (except where there isn't a pavement) and are limited to 4mph. You don't need to register a Class 2 carriage and it does not require a tax disc.
Class 3 invalid carriages are powered mobility scooters or power chairs that ARE permitted to be used on the roads. They have a top speed of 8mph but must be limited to 4mph when off road. Class 3 invalid carriages need to display a 'nil value' tax disc and be registered to the DVLA. Further down this page we'll explain how to do this.
Here are the current legal requirements for mobility scooters that are to be used on public roads and highways in the UK.
All Class 3 mobility scooters to be used on public roads and highways MUST:
Not exceed a maximum weight of 150kg (Scooter only)
Not exceed a maximum width of 85cm
Have a top speed of 8mph
They much also be equipped with:
An audible horn
A rear view mirror
Directional indicators with a flashing hazard option
An efficient braking system
Front and rear lights and reflectors
Note: Most mobility scooters aren't equipped with a manual brake. The user simply releases the accelerator and the brakes will apply. This is acceptable.
These requirements are in place for the scooter user's own safety. In addition, users must honour the highway code and are not permitted to be used in bus and cycle lanes or motorways. Surprisingly, however, class 3 mobility scooters are allowed to be used on dual carriageways providing it's equipped with an extra flashing amber warning light - the guideline in this instance being that speed limits of over 50mph 'should be avoided'. We strongly advise that scooter users should find an alternative route and avoid dual carriageways whenever possible.
However, most incidents involving mobility scooters occur in the town centres; pavements, shops, high streets, etc. There are currently no laws or restrictions in place to govern their use in such public areas, the only exception being that all mobility scooters MUST have a setting that limits them to 4mph - a brisk walking pace.
Generally speaking mobility scooters can be seen a mile away. There is however a slight issue in that the users themselves are positioned very low down, with their heads at approximately waist height to the rest of the crowd. Here's an example; If someone is standing next to them in the high street and they turn around quickly, in a split second they could easily look straight over the user and walk into them. Some users have taken it upon themselves to overcome this problem by attaching a small bell or a flag to their equipment. It is, however, everyone's responsibility to look where they are going!
There's also the issue of road tax. Current UK law says you don’t have to pay vehicle tax for any mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you still need to register class 3 invalid carriages and display a ‘nil value’ tax disc. To register and apply for a nil value tax disc for a class 3 invalid carriage, complete form V55/4 for new vehicles, or V55/5 for used vehicles. You can get the forms from DVLA’s online ordering service.
At RentaScoota we've developed a medical assessment ensuring that our customers are not only provided with the right equipment to suit their needs, but that they're able to do so without putting themselves or anyone else in harms way. Disappointingly, we are one of the only UK mobility providers to provide such a comprehensive service with many other outlets happy to sell any scooter to anyone without first assessing their requirements.
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