Mobility or disability scooters are a great way for those less mobile to get out and about and remain independent. They are also a great alternative to a car for those who are no longer fit enough to drive or who just want to save money.
Whilst they are ideal to go shopping, visit family and friends or just nip out in the sunshine to go to the local park, there are some things that users and potential owners need to consider in order to stay safe on the roads and pavements. So here are some things to think about before buying or heading out on your scooter today.
There are three types of mobility scooters –
Not electrically propelled,
Not required to be registered with DVLA
Powered wheelchairs and scooters
For use on footpaths and pavements, not roads,
Restricted to a maximum speed of 4 mph
Scooters and larger, more powerful scooters
Maximum unladen weight (without driver) limit of 150kgs
You must be 14 or over to drive a Class 3 carriage
A maximum speed of 8mph (restricted to 4mph on pavements)
Fitted with lights, indicators, a rear view mirror and a horn
MUST be registered with DVLA (free of charge)
Some tips before buying a mobility scooter:
- Do some research and consider the sort of journeys that you plan to do, where are you going to use it (road or pavement), are there dropped kerbs available?
- Do you have enough space at home to store and charge one? (Do not obstruct fire escapes or emergency exits).
- If using a car or public transport, will it fit into a car boot or onto a bus?
- Visit a reputable supplier and try before you buy. Doing so will ensure that you buy the model that is best for you, your home and the appropriate one for your usage. You will also get personal support in the event of any problems or should you need any repairs or servicing.
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Q. Do I need a driving licence to use a mobility scooter?
No. A mobility scooter that meets the prescribed weight and speed restrictions is not classified as a motor vehicle and therefore there is no requirement for a driving licence.
Q. Do I need insurance?
You do not need to be insured but we strongly recommend that you do have insurance in the event of an accident or theft.
Q. Can I carry a passenger, say a child?
No. Mobility scooters are intended for single person use. Two-seater carriages do exist but they are not defined as mobility scooters.
Q. Can I take my mobility scooter in a taxi or on a bus or train?
Taxis will transport mobility scooters but advise them when booking so an appropriate vehicle can be used. Bus companies will also allow scooter users onboard but often insist that the user undertakes an assessment with them prior to receiving a pass. Many train companies also accept scooter users but may insist on the user registering with them for a permit or giving them prior notice.
Q. Can I be breathalysed by the police on a mobility scooter?
No. A mobility scooter is not classed as a motor vehicle and therefore a user cannot be breathalysed. However, Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (driving/in charge whilst unfit through drink and/or drugs) does apply and could result in arrest and a substantial fine. More importantly, it is clearly not safe to use a mobility scooter whilst under the influence of alcohol/drugs. Drugs include medicines.
Q. How fit do I need to be to use a mobility scooter?
Whilst there are no legal eyesight requirements, users should be able to read a car number plate from 12.3 metres. Clearly, some medical conditions may prevent the safe use of a mobility scooter, such as epilepsy, hearing impairment and alcoholism. However, many people in the early stages of dementia can still travel safely on a mobility scooter. Speak to your doctor for advice.