If you buy a Class 3 mobility scooter, you will be legally entitled to take it onto the road. Although they only have a maximum speed limit of 8mph, the fact that this class of scooter is not restricted just to travelling on pavements can make short trips around town a great deal easier and quicker.
Although it is thankfully a rare occurrence, however, there have been occasional road traffic accidents in which scooters have been involved. And, whilst it is easy to blame the reckless actions of car drivers for all such incidents, anyone who operates an 8mph mobility scooter also has a responsibility to operate their vehicle safely and to consider other road users at all times. Read on for some tips on how to minimise any risk to yourself and others when taking your scooter onto the road.
Avoid busy roads
As with mobility scooter use in general, simply applying some common sense should be enough to keep you safe whilst you’re out and about in your Class 3 vehicle. Unfortunately, news reports over the years have very occasionally included items about mobility scooters being driven on completely inappropriate, fast-moving roads – needless to say, this is something that should always be avoided!
For obvious reasons, it is illegal to drive your 8mph scooter on the motorway, whilst bus lanes, cycle lanes and dual carriageways where the speed limit is over 50mph are also out of bounds. It is legal to take scooters onto dual carriageways where the speed limit is lower than this, although anyone doing so is obliged to have their hazard lights on permanently.
With all this in mind, it is best to abide by a simple rule of thumb: if you think a road near you is usually so busy that riding your mobility scooter on it could cause unnecessary disruption and danger, you are probably right!
Use crossings where possible
Another situation in which simple common sense will make all the difference between staying safe and potentially running into trouble is when it comes to making turns and crossing the road. Whilst turning left should not usually be a problem (providing you indicate in good time, which you are legally obliged to do), turning right to cross can be much trickier.
Crossing on a mobility scooter carries clear risks, with the danger being that excessively fast cars may not be able to slow down in time for you to get from one side of the road to the other safely. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to mount the pavement and make use of pedestrian crossings where available, even if this means going a little further up the road than you would like – the extra time this may take is certainly worth the safety it will provide!
As with all the tips on our list, doing the safest thing in scenarios like this will be very much appreciated by your fellow road users.
Wear high-visibility clothing
Due to their compact nature, even the most robust mobility scooters are initially harder to spot than most other vehicles you will come across. There have been numerous campaigns over the years encouraging drivers to pay special attention to bikers and cyclists when pulling out or making turns, but the same could also be said for users of mobility scooters.
As with driving a car, it is impossible to completely remove every element of risk associated with riding a mobility scooter on the road. However, one simple – and extremely effective – action you could take is to wear high-visibility clothing when out and about.
As well as turning your scooter’s lights on during dark and wet weather conditions, always wearing a reflective jacket or vest is an easy and affordable way of making yourself much more noticeable. It would also be worth investing in a set of reflective stickers (this won’t usually cost much more than £5) that you can place on your scooter, further improving your visibility to others.
Always obey the Highway Code
Whilst most Class 3 mobility scooter users drive their vehicles sensibly, considerately and as safely as possible, there have been rare incidents on the highways which have called into question the road sense of a small proportion of scooter drivers.
The most important thing to keep in mind during your travels is that anyone operating a mobility scooter is bound by the same Highway Code rules as car drivers; so, if you treat your scooter as you would any other vehicle that you have driven in the past, you won’t go far wrong. There are also some rules that apply specifically to scooters – they can be read in full here, but below is a summary of them:
- Be mindful that you will usually be travelling slower than other road users.
- Always travel with, not away from, the direction of traffic.
- The same rules regarding lights, indicators and horns apply to scooters as to other vehicles.
- Take extra care at junctions and, where possible, avoid crossing busy roads.
- Scooters are treated the same as cars when it comes to parking restrictions; Blue Badges can also be used.
- As mentioned above, driving on motorways and high-speed dual carriageways is forbidden.
Arrange a driving assessment
Although it is by no means a prerequisite, it may be worth considering – for your own peace of mind and that of your family – enrolling on a mobility scooter driving assessment course. The Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) charity is one of several organisations which offer assessments, in their case at the cost of £100 – potentially a price worth paying for the added safety it could provide.
The content of mobility scooter assessments varies from place to place, but the QEF course involves starting off in an indoor demonstration area, where your basic driving skills will be evaluated on a flat, even surface. After this, you will move to an outdoor track and be given the chance to negotiate slopes, pedestrian crossings, kerbs and other road features that you will often need to tackle in the ‘real world’.
Following the completion of your assessment, you will be given feedback on your driving performance and, if deemed necessary, some advice on whether any further training may be helpful to reduce the risk of driving your scooter on the road.