If you or a loved one has difficulty walking because of arthritis, muscular disease, or age, you may benefit from using a mobility scooter. Mobility scooters allow individuals with mobility issues to transform everyday life and gain or regain independence quickly.
This comprehensive guide on innovative mobility solutions offers a complete list of critical rules for using mobility scooters if you are looking to invest in one for yourself or a loved one.
The Difference Between a Scooter and a Wheelchair
Powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters are effective solutions for mobility difficulties. Both promote and contribute to comfortable and safe mobility for several reasons.
A distinct feature of a mobility scooter is its appearance. These units have three to four wheels, a seat, and a handlebar for operating and steering the scooter. Some have storage baskets attached that are useful during daily outings.
Battery-powered mobility scooters help move around in the outdoors. They are an efficient means to travel to the local stores or venturing around town, with some being usable on roads. The elderly who require help in everyday activities often favour the mobility scooter.
A powered or electric wheelchair looks like a manual wheelchair but is controlled using touch or joystick controls.
These wheelchairs are more expensive than mobility scooters but allow for more sophisticated seating to cater to those with advanced needs or those who might spend all day in them. Plus, powered wheelchairs are suitable for indoor use.
Essential Rules for Using Mobility Scooters
Did you know there are road rules for mobility scooters? If you are new to mobility scooters or a close friend or family member is about to get one, here are essential rules for safely and legally heading out and about.
You Might Need to Register Your Mobility Scooter
Invalid Carriages are powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters in law. The law uses a class system, which is a regulation set up by the UK government called the 1988 Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations Act to legislate the use of mobility scooters. There are now three classes of invalid carriage in the UK:
Class 1 – Covers manual wheelchairs restricted to pavements
Class 2 – These are mobility devices for use on footpaths or footways unless there is no pavement. They have a maximum 4 mph or 6 km/h speed limit.
Class 3 – These invalid carriages can go faster than 4 mph or 7 km/h, and have a speed limit of 8 mph or 12 km/h. They are equipped for use on the road, footways, and footpaths.
Class 1 and 2 invalid carriages do not need to be registered.
Features a Class 3 Mobility Scooter Must Have Before Taking it on the Road
Class 3 invalid carriages cover scooters that are road legal and unsuitable for indoor use. The regulations and rules regarding these scooters are stricter than their class 2 counterparts.
Only mobility scooters with these features are class 3 invalid carriages:
An unladen weight of not more than 150 kg
A working braking system
A rear-view mirror and a horn
You must register these vehicles with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to be road legal. This is done by filling out a V55/4 or V55/5 registration form for new and used vehicles, respectively.
Driving Your Mobility Scooter on the Road
You cannot drive class 3 mobility scooters on cycle-only lanes, bus lanes, or motorways but can drive them on all other roads. It’s not recommended to take them to dual carriageways with speed limits over 50mph (80km/h).
Use amber flashing light for visibility if you intend to drive on a dual carriageway. Travel in the traffic’s direction and use your horns, indicators, and lights according to the Highway Code.
Driving a Mobility Scooter on Footpaths
You may use class 2 and 3 mobility scooters on pavements at a maximum speed of 4 mph and never cycle-only paths. Ensure the scooter is not in the way of pedestrians, wheelchair users, or people using pushchairs and prams when parking.
Parking with a Blue Badge
Check if you are eligible for a blue badge. These badges allow you to park in spots other drivers cannot, including spaces reserved for blue badge holders.
The badge keeps you moving and offers peace of mind as you use your scooter. It is necessary if you are using a scooter as it allows you to park and leave easily.
People who automatically qualify for a blue badge are:
Receiving a high rate of the mobility component of the DVLA
Registered to receive a lump sum payment from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
Receiving War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
You are still eligible for a blue badge in case of:
Severe disability affecting mobility
Permanent walking problems
Unable to use arms
Who Can Use a Mobility Scooter?
You can drive mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs if you have trouble walking due to a medical condition, physical disability, or an injury.
Other reasons for driving a mobility scooter include:
Showing its use before selling
Training a disabled user on how to operate it
Taking the vehicle to and from repair or maintenance
Road Tax and Insurance for Mobility Scooters
You don’t need a tax or a license to go on the road on your mobility scooter. But you still need to register your class 3 mobility scooter with the DVLA. Plus, you must be older than 14 years to operate the vehicle.
Insurance for your mobility scooter is not a legal requirement. However, it is still recommended in case of a collision.
A fully comprehensive mobility scooter insurance policy, for example, includes everything to protect your mobility scooter from:
Other services the insurance might include are breakdown cover that takes you home when the mobility scooter suffers a puncture, mechanical fault, or a flat battery. Some include third-party cover to protect you from claims against damage or injury caused while using the powered chair or scooter. Others will also add a personal accident cover if you crash your scooter.
Tips to Keep You Safe in Your Mobility Scooter
Make sure you feel confident while using a mobility scooter when you are out and about. Be safe and aware of your surroundings while moving along. Here are some top tips to help you remain safe and alert in your scooter:
Be visible – You may install a safety flag to the scooter or wear reflective clothing to enhance visibility. Do this especially when driving in poorly lit locations and at night.
Make eye contact with other drivers – Try making eye contact with other drivers before crossing a road helping to ensure they see you.
Cross with caution – Exercise extra caution as you cross roads and driveways. There is a significant height difference between yourself and other drivers.
Avoid mobile and headphone use – Phones and headphones can distract you. If you need to make or receive calls while driving, invest in a mobile mount accessory.
Travel at low speeds – Try driving at the lower speed limit so you can stop with ease unless you are moving uphill.
Keep the scooter well maintained – Inspect the mobile scooter’s battery, charger, brakes, lights, and tyres regularly and make sure it gets an annual service.
Be as Safe as Possible on the Road
You are responsible for your own and others’ safety when driving any vehicle, including a mobility scooter. Use this guide to brush up on mobility scooter UK regulations and laws before driving on roads and pavements.