Rules you must know for mobility scooters and motor powered wheelchairs

Although some mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs can be used on public roads, you don’t need to have a driving licence and they don’t all need to be registered, however if you are using a Class 3 mobility scooter it is a legal requirement that you must register this with the DVLA to drive on the road. There is a separate set of rules that apply to non-road users too, so it’s important to know your legal obligations.

To be able to use a mobility scooter you have to have some form of disability, injury or medical condition that makes walking difficult. Someone who doesn’t fulfil any of these criteria is only permitted to use the vehicle for demonstration or training purposes or to take it to be repaired. It’s referred to as a vehicle because even motorised wheelchairs come with a ‘log book’, also known as a V5C, with the owner listed as the registered keeper. You’ll need to keep this in a safe place, remembering to update any change of address details.

There’s no tax to pay and insurance isn’t legally required, but it’s sensible to have a policy in place. It’s advisable to choose a policy which provides you with third party liability as well as a cash payout if your mobility scooter or powered wheelchair is stolen or damaged. Policies start from just a couple of pounds a month so it’s not much to pay for extra peace of mind.

You need to know which class of powered mobility vehicle you’re using. All models, including electric wheelchairs, are defined as either Class 2 or Class 3, so you need to be very clear about which type you have. Most of us refer to them as scooters and wheelchairs, but in the eyes of the law they come under the heading of ‘invalid carriages’. And each class has its own legal requirements.

Class 2 mobility scooters

Class 2 models are not permitted to be used on roads. The only exception to this rule is when no pavement is available. They can’t be used on cycle lanes or cycle paths either. The top speed is capped at 4mph to avoid injury to pedestrians,

Class 3 mobility scooters

Class 3 models may be used on roads and on pavements, so users must be aged 14 or above, with a good working knowledge of the Highway Code. When used on roads speeds of up to 8mph are permitted. However, when travelling on pavements the speed limit of 4mph applies, so your mobility scooter or powered wheelchair must have a speed limiting device.

Rest assured that the police will stop you if your Class 3 mobility scooter or motorised wheelchair isn’t fitted with working front and rear lights, reflectors and indicators that can also operate as hazard warning lights. You’re also obliged to have a rear view mirror, efficient brakes and a horn that can be clearly heard.

You can take your Class 3 vehicle on a dual carriageway with a speed limit of 50mph or less, but you must have a flashing amber light to alert other road users to your presence.

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