You’ve read up on all the buying advice and chosen your mobility scooter. You may already have taken delivery of a new vehicle. Now you will want to make sure you are up to date with any legal requirements and know the rules and regulations that will affect you. Is there a highway code for mobility scooter users, do you need tax, MOT, insurance or a driving licence?
What about those rules that are not a legal requirement but just make good sense? We aim to answer all your queries and maybe a few you haven’t thought to ask yet.
The highway code for different class mobility scooters
Mobility scooters (legally referred to as ‘invalid carriages’) are defined in law as either class 2 (including powered wheelchairs) which are intended for use on pavements and class 3 which covers scooters designed for regular use on roads. For the record, class 1 refers to all manual wheelchairs. There is no distinction between folding or non-folding class 2 scooters for the purposes of the law.
As you will discover while reading this, many of the rules for mobility scooter users are more about common sense than actual legislation. Although Class 2 is not intended for roads, users may use roads when there is no alternative; for example, if the pavement is obstructed or if there is no pavement available, such as in some rural areas. You should, however, keep to the pavement whenever possible.
Similarly, although class 3 vehicles are intended for road use, the government’s own advice is to use pavements, where practical, for reasons of safety. This is particularly encouraged when negotiating complex junctions, roundabouts etc. All class 3 scooters have a speed-limiter switch, to reduce the maximum speed from 8mph to 4mph and this must be engaged when using pavements.
For all types, the rules for mobility scooter users require you to give way to pedestrians. In particular, consider the possibility that a pedestrian may have impaired hearing or vision and be aware that children or pets may behave unpredictably.
When shopping you should check the policy of the places you most often visit. Generally, you will encounter fewer problems in entering, and negotiating, large supermarkets and shopping centres, where the aisles are wide. Although businesses are required to make provision for those with disabilities this does not always mean that users of mobility scooters will always be able to take them inside. The situation is similar when using other public spaces, libraries, sports centres etc. In general, these places will make every effort to accommodate you but be prepared for some challenges from time to time.
When using mobility scooters on the road, keep in mind the maximum road speed of 8mph for class 3 vehicles is still much slower than 30mph or more for cars, so you need to take extra caution when using the roads. All class 3 scooters are equipped with front and rear lights and reflectors, indicators and a horn and these must be kept in working order and used appropriately. It is advisable to wear reflective clothing or similar, particularly at night, to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
Mobility scooters must never be used on motorways. On unrestricted dual carriageways, where the speed limit exceeds 50mph, you must operate a flashing amber warning light which can be obtained as an additional accessory.
A few notes that may seem obvious but need mentioning. You can still get parking tickets with a mobility scooter, you must not carry passengers, even children and you can be arrested if you are found drunk in charge of your vehicle.
Related: Mobility scooter checklist
Licensing and registering your mobility scooter
Perhaps surprisingly, the rules for mobility scooter users do not require you to hold a valid driving license, even for road use. Class 3 scooters must be registered with the DVLA (in the same way as taxing a car) but they are zero-rated for this purpose. Class 2 scooters do not need to be registered.
It is highly advisable to get some training in the safe use of your mobility scooter, particularly if you have never driven a car since you are still expected to follow all the normal rules of the Highway Code, as if you were driving a car.
There is no legal eyesight requirement, however, the rule of thumb is if you would need glasses to drive, then you should wear them. You may be held liable if poor eyesight is found to be a contributing factor in any accident.
Who can use a mobility scooter?
You must be over 14 to ride a class 3 mobility scooter, but currently, there are no age restrictions on class 2 mobility scooters. A person may only drive a mobility scooter, in a public place, if they experience difficulty walking, either due to a long-term disability, while recovering from surgery or as a result of any form of illness or injury. However, there are some exceptions for obvious practical reasons. A normally able person may ride a scooter for the purposes of delivering or collecting it for repair or routine maintenance, while demonstrating it or when training a new user.
It’s probably worth looking at alternatives if your disability includes something which might make using a mobility scooter dangerous, such as severe memory loss, serious lack of balance or a tendency to pass out.
Do you need to insure a mobility scooter?
Despite the fact that there is no legal requirement to insure a scooter, even a class 3 type, you would be well advised to take out insurance just in case. Mobility scooter use is rising rapidly, so you should not be alarmed by a corresponding rise in accidents as reported by some media. Nevertheless, accidents do occur and insuring yourself, especially for third party cover will make sure you are not left out of pocket should the worst happen. You can also insure against theft and breakdowns as well.
What to do if you have a road accident on a mobility scooter
Chances are if you have taken the time to read this, you are already less likely to be involved in an accident than most, however, you will also want to know what to do should the worst happen. Again, the rules for mobility scooter users are similar to those for all other road users.
- Remain calm and do not admit fault.
- If there are any injuries and you are able, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. The police also need to be informed if there are injuries. You should not call the emergency services to the scene if there are no injuries unless someone is behaving in a threatening manner.
- If other drivers are involved and have not driven off, then exchange name and address details in the normal way. Also, try to get contact details for any witnesses.
- If possible, take photographs of the accident and the scene, showing any damage and the positions of all vehicles involved, as well as street furniture such as signs and traffic lights and the number plates of vehicles involved.
Official UK Government website on Highway Code for mobility scooter users https://www.gov.uk/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-rules