The freedom a person with limited mobility can get from mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs’ ability to travel not only on the pavement but also on the road and other terrains.
Please speak to a professional when finding a mobility scooter or wheelchair that best suits your needs as well as ensuring you test drive them as many flaws or benefits will not become apparent otherwise.
Besides the various rules and regulations, which govern the use of and transportation of mobility devices, you must always remain aware of what it takes to stay safe when operating a mobility scooter or wheelchair outside. This means only taking a scooter/wheelchair onto the road or outside in general once you feel confident in your ability to manoeuvre and control it safely. For example making your you understand all functions, levers and switches. If you need help or just a refresher you can contact you local dealer for help, however, there will likely be a small fee for this service.
Stay aware of your surroundings to contribute the safety of other road or pavement users, including pedestrians and especially children. You should also turn of your scooter when stationary.
Government Highway code guidance for Mobility Scooters and Electric Wheelchairs
There are three different classes of mobility scooters and wheelchairs. Class 1 are manual wheelchairs, either where you are pushed by another person or self-propelled. Class 2 are mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs, which have a maximum speed limit of 4mph (≈6.1kph) and are designed to be used on pavements or indoors. Class 3 means electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters with an upper speed limit of either 6mph (≈9.6kph) or 8mph (≈12.9kph), these can be driven on the road with a speed greater than 4mph and must also not weight more than 150kg.
Mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs MUST NOT under any circumstances travel faster than 4mph (≈6.1kph) on the pavement or in pedestrian areas. You may need to further reduce your speed when accommodating for others in a narrow space on pavements or pedestrian areas.
Rules for driving a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair
When on the road you should obey the laws and guidance for other vehicles, however, when you are on the pavement the laws and guidance for pedestrians applies.
Pavements are safer than roads, so should be used when available. You should give priority to pedestrians and show consideration for other pavements users, especially those with visual or hearing impairment who will be less aware of their surroundings and whether you are there.
Always use special care and attention to when you are switching from a pavement to a road and ensure that you will be moving into road traffic safely and with enough of a gap. Always use dropped kerbs, even if this means travelling further ahead to find one. If you must climb or descend a kerb, you should approach at right angles and do not try to climb or descend kerbs greater than your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendation.
You should take care when travelling on the road as you may be travelling a lot slower than other traffic (your machine is restricted to 8mph (≈12.9kph) and is also less visible than most road users).
When on the road, class 3 vehicles should follow the direction of traffic. Class 2 users should always use the pavement when it is available and, when there is no pavement available, should follow the direction of traffic. If you are travelling at night you MUST use lights and should still follow the direction of traffic.
You MUST follow the same rules that apply to other road vehicles regarding lights, indicators and horns: if your vehicle is fitted with them. At night lights MUST be used. You should be aware that other road users may not be able to see you and, in daytime and at dusk, you should wear a reflective jacket or have reflective stripes fitted to the back of the vehicle.
You should take extra care at junctions. When going straight ahead, check to make sure there are no vehicles about to cross your path from the left or right and check if any others are overtaking or turning left. There are several options for dealing with right turns, especially with those from a major road. If moving into the middle of the road is dangerous or difficult, you can
- Stop on the left-hand side of the road and wait for a safe gap in the traffic
- Deal with the turn as a pedestrian: meaning to travel onto the pavement and cross to the opposite pavement when there is a safe gap. Class 3 users MUST switch to a max speed of 4mph when on pavements
Some junctions are too hazardous and you should consider taking an alternative route. When dealing with major roundabouts (those with two or more lanes) it may be safer to use the pavement or find a route that avoids the roundabouts all together.
All normal parking guidance and laws restrictions should be followed. Your vehicle should not be left unattended where it causes an obstruction to other pedestrians, especially those in in wheelchairs.
These vehicles MUST NOT be used on motorways or in bus or cycle lanes. They should not be used on unrestricted dual carriageways where the speed limit exceeds 50mph (≈80kph). When they are used on these dual carriageways, they MUST have a flashing amber beacon. A flashing amber beacon should be used on all other dual carriageways.
When passing parked cars, be aware of doors opening.
Do you need a driving licence?
A class 3 motor vehicle is not defined as a motor vehicle and the user does not have to have a driving licence or take a driving test.
Who can use a mobility scooter?
A mobility scooter and electric wheelchair can only be used by a disabled person, or by an able-bodied person when demonstrating it before selling or, training a disabled user or taking a vehicle to or from a place for maintenance/repair.
Does a mobility scooter need a tax disk?
Only class 3 mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It must be licensed in the disabled taxation class. This means there is no fee to pay, and the vehicle does not need registration plates. Every class 3 scooter comes with a DVLA registration form V55/4, which needs to be filled in and sent to the DVLA. DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BE.
You cannot license your class 3 invalid carriage online or at the post office.
Most scooters and wheelchairs will already be registered by your dealer before you buy them.
If your vehicle is not registered, register it by filling in:
When you buy a used mobility scooter or electric wheelchair, the seller will make you the ‘registered keeper’ – This means it is in your name. You’ll receive a new vehicle log book (V5C) in the post within 4 weeks of the sale.
If you do not receive this 4 weeks after your sale, fill in an Application for a Vehicle Registration certificate (V62) and send it to the DVLA
If you need to change your name or address, fill in the section 6 of your vehicle logbook and send it to the DVLA
Mobility scooter and electric wheelchair repairs and maintenance are essential in ensuring your safety on the road. You MUST check that plugs and wires are always connected. No wires should remain exposed. The tyres should be inflated to the correct pressure. Assembly mechanisms must be locked in place. The adjustable seat should be locked in place and stable. The brakes MUST be working. The battery MUST be charged.
Charge your battery overnight when finished using it for the day so that it’s fully charged by the next day.
It’s important to remember that the distance you can travel on a given day will depend on the condition of batteries, the weight of your scooter, whether you are travelling up or down hills, the terrain and cold weather.
Do I need insurance?
You do not need insurance for a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair, however, it is highly recommended.
Can I take my mobility scooter or electric wheelchair on the bus?
It is not ideal to use your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair when it is raining as they are electrical machines and the rain can damage the electrics. If you are caught out in the rain, try to protect the electrics and get under cover when possible. When you have returned home wipe down your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair to ensure it is dry. When cleaning your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair, use a damp cloth and dry it immediately after. NEVER use a hose to wash it down.
Make sure the charging port of your mobility scooter/wheelchair is closed when it is not in use.
Driving in the dark
If you are using your mobility scooter/wheelchair in the dark, make sure that you use your lights and wear fluorescent clothing. Also make sure this clothing does not restrict your vision.
Avoid wearing loose-fitting items, such as scarves or belts, so that they don’t get caught in the wheels. Don’t overload your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair is it will reduce your stability when driving. Do not hang bags on the handle bars.
Never allow another person on the mobility scooter with you
Do not use your mobility scooter if you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. If you’re on medication that causes drowsiness and is not allowed for driving other vehicles, do not use your mobility scooter or wheelchair.
Always seek professional advice when purchasing a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair and make sure you test drive it before you buy it. Maintain awareness about your surroundings and follow the Highway Code to contribute to the safety of pedestrians and other road-users and, of course, yourself. It is also important to take good care of your new mobility scooter or electric wheelchair and have it serviced once a year by a reputable dealer, not only for the benefits of safety but also for extending the lifespan of your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair to its maximum.
Information sourced from gov.uk