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Mobility scooters - a question of law

David Roberts's picture
By: David Roberts

I have for many years used a mobility scooter to travel round the country; longer distances mostly by train, but with the occasional car journey. Mobility scooters are classed as ‘invalid carriages’ by law. I paraphrase the relevant government regulations:

Class 2 powered wheelchairs and scooters primarily for footway use, with a maximum speed of 4mph and a maximum unladen weight of 113.4 kilograms. Class 2 vehicles must also have an effective braking system and must use lights and reflectors when being used at night.

I noticed that one vehicle I had was much faster than the previous one, and so I contacted Disability Can Do, a charitable organisation that supports disabled adults and their carers in Caerphilly borough through the provision of services, support and information, for advice. They tested the scooter with a satnav for its top speed and I achieved almost 6mph in both directions on a flat pavement, making it technically illegal. Their advice was that it was a problem and were I ever asked by officialdom I should demonstrate by the documents I had received that I had bought a Class 2 scooter in good faith, via a reputable world-wide importer, through a reputable retailer.

I have recently decided to upgrade from a Class 2 scooter to a Class 3.

Class 3 powered wheelchairs and scooters for use on roads/highways with a maximum speed of 8mph, with the facility to limit the maximum speed to 4mph for use when travelling on footways.

Class 3 vehicles must have a maximum unladen weight of 150 kilograms, a maximum width of 0.85 metres, a device to limit its speed to 4mph, an effective braking system, front and rear lights and reflectors, direction indicators which are able to operate as a hazard warning signal, an audible warning instrument, a rear view mirror, and an amber flashing light if it is used on a dual carriageway.

There are a number of scooters on the market which are advertised as 6mph Class 3 vehicles. I was seriously considering one such, but closer examination of the specification and the user manual showed that it did not have any means of limiting its speed to 4mph. I spoke to the importer’s customer service department who said that the speed control was sufficient. I seriously doubt that I can judge my speed accurately enough to stay below 4mph by guesswork alone since there is no speedometer on any of these scooters.

I am advised that they are illegal to be used as Class 3 vehicles without a speed limiter and cannot be used as Class 2 pavement scooters because they are capable of 6mph. That appears to mean they cannot be used in the UK on any public road or pavement.

So I ask:

See also: Rica's guide to choosing a mobility scooter | Rica’s online mobility scooter search | Travelling with a mobility scooter