Road Safety Week 2020 - Mobility Scooters and Rules of the Road

on Monday, 16 November 2020. Posted in News, Fresh Thinking, Blog

Road Safety Week 2020 - Mobility Scooters and Rules of the Road

From the hilarious to the horrifying, here are 20 reminders in Road Safety Week 2020 of the rules of riding mobility scooters on the road.

It is worth pointing out at the beginning of this article that the invention of the mobility scooter should be a much-celebrated thing. They bring freedom to many who would otherwise be confined to their homes; they promote independence and have become an essential part of the lives of a large number of people.

It should go without saying that, when sharing our roads and pavements we should be courteous and kind to all other users, follow the rules and be sensible. But as with pedestrians, cars, bikes and lorries, we are about to see that mobility scooters have their share of users who do not follow that advice and, equally, they have safe and conscientious users who are not always treated with the respect or patience they deserve.  

Fence, offence?

Mobility scooters have safe maximum load weights – some over 400kgs - which includes the weight of the user and anything they may be safely carrying.

So, hitching three 6ft x 6ft fence panels, weighing around 75kg each, to the back of a mobility scooter may not be breaching the max load limit.

But there are other clear dangers in carrying such large items, as revealed in a jaw-dropping video recording of a mobility scooter user in Bristol, reported by the Daily Mail earlier this year. [1]

By law, road-worthy mobility scooters – termed as ‘class 3 invalid carriages’ - must-have, among other requirements [2]: 

 

  • A maximum width of 0.85 metres. 
  • An effective rear-view mirror.

 

Dual danger

Wondering if it’s legal to drive class 3 mobility scooters on dual carriageways is completely different from questioning the risk.

The UK’s law says you can drive on roads - excluding motorways - in class 3 mobility scooters at a maximum speed of 8mph.

So why not on motorways? 

A pensioner caught on camera in Spain in August demonstrated the dangers after driving his mobility scooter into a busy four-lane tunnel and causing traffic chaos. [3]

When it comes to dual carriageways, however, you are advised to ‘avoid’ using those with a speed limit of over 50mph.

It’s sound advice, as discovered by another pensioner in July when his mobility scooter was in close collision with a lorry on a Yorkshire dual carriageway - with a 70mph speed limit. [4]

And in Shropshire in May, police pulled over a mobility scooter driver spotted travelling at 8mph in a 70mph stretch. The scooter was towed away. [5]

Takeaway tips

Trundling out for a takeaway on a mobility scooter is all very well – but can you opt to join the traffic queue in the drive-thru?

It’s a sizzling issue that caused a fiery fallout between mobility scooter user, David Irving and fried chicken chain, KFC, according to a report in The Sun. [6]

Mr Irving commented: “When I pulled up, the person serving closed the window. It is just discrimination to me.”

And McDonald’s has been forced to chew over its drive-thru policy after several road-worthy mobility scooter users were refused service during Covid-19 service restrictions.

The Scarborough News tells of a super fan of the fast-food giant who was turned away in June despite being first in the traffic queue for a newly opened drive-thru. [7]

 

   They told me it’s not a vehicle. It’s got lights, indicators; it’s fully taxed and insured!   

David Smith, Bridlington

 

Yet, in the same month, mobility scooter users in Bristol were being given the Maccie drive-thru go ahead in a reminder of the rules in a local newspaper. [8]

Still, not everyone’s getting the message, as a report from Portsmouth just a few months later proves when a disabled mobility scooter user is denied a drive-thru triple cheeseburger. [9]

While it continues to be a foggy area, the best advice might be to check with a takeaway on its mobility scooter drive-thru policy ahead of visiting. 

 

Driving drunk

While driving a motor vehicle when you’re over the legal alcohol limit is definitely illegal, how does the law stand when it comes to mobility scooters?

In Skegness, police used a Victorian law for sobering effect when a drunk mobility scooter user refused to leave a McDonald’s drive-thru. [10]

But in other cases, drink-drive laws relating to motor vehicles have been used to secure a conviction, including the case of a mobility scooter who drunk drove into oncoming traffic in Edinburgh. [11]

Startlingly, however, it appears prosecuting mobility scooter users under existing drink-drive laws is in itself unlawful!

 

   She found that, in law, a mobility scooter is an invalid carriage – and this excludes it from traditional drink driving rules.   

 

In a fascinating scoot through legal loopholes, solicitor Salome Verrell managed to have a drink driving case against a mobility scooter user thrown out, despite a plea of guilty. [12] 

Regardless of legal quirks, however, all users of road-worthy mobility scooters are bound by the rules of the Highway Code. [13]

Those rules forbid driving on roads while under the influence of drink, drugs or certain medicines known to impair driving ability.

Tunnel vision

It’s easy, at first sight, to judge what appears to be reckless behaviour by mobility scooter users on the roads.

The Worcester News, for example, has video coverage of an elderly mobility scooter driver taking on oncoming traffic in a “nightmare” tunnel in the city. [14]

But with the global mobility scooter market predicted to top £1.60bn in the next 6 years [15], could the greater fault actually lie within the designs of our urban environments?

The local call for road safety action following that Worcester tunnel terror suggests so. [16]

 

Power to harm

Class 3 mobility scooters are limited to a maximum speed of 4mph off the road and 8mph on the road.

But with the weight of the heaviest models of class 3 mobility scooters combined with maximum load limits potentially topping 500kgs, there’s every chance of causing serious and even fatal injuries to others in a collision.

Lacking in safety awareness led to tragedy in Derbyshire when a 79-year-old mobility scooter driver ran over an 88-year-old pedestrian, who later died as a result of his injuries. [17]

In a 5-year regional spate of 53 mobility scooter accidents in Devon and Cornwall, one 71-year-old Paignton woman was repeatedly run over by a mobility scooter being driven by an elderly learner. [18]

 

   They are heavy machines, and they can be a death trap. (Users) don’t even know how to drive them, some of them.   

 

And in another alarming story, reported by The Independent, a disabled man deliberately used his mobility scooter “like a battering ram” to knock down two pensioners waiting at a bus stop in Kent. [19]

 

Safety steps

Latest Department of Transport (DoT) figures for the UK show a rise of 5.5% in the number of accidents involving mobility scooters from 2017 to 2018. [20]

Earlier this year, the DoT urged mobility retailers to provide training in the use of mobility scooters at the point of sale. [21]

It also strongly recommended customers to take out insurance to cover personal and other people’s safety and the value of the mobility scooter.

But there are other clear dangers in carrying such large items, as revealed in a jaw-dropping video recording of a mobility scooter user in Bristol, reported by the Daily Mail earlier this year. Gov.UK - Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchair Rules

The UK’s Road Safety Knowledge Centre provides information and expertise free of charge on a wide range of issues, including mobility scooters and driver training. More here: Road Safety Knowledge Centre

Another helpful highway to safe mobility scooter driving signposted by the UK charity, Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People here: Wheelchairs and Scooters

Road Safety Week 2020

Driven by Brake, the UK’s road safety charity, Road Safety Week 2020’s theme, ‘No Need to Speed’ aims to highlight the dangers of speeding to all road users.

 

Related articles

https://www.krysalisconsultancy.co.uk/resources/item/road-safety-week-2019

References

[1https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8314975/Mobility-scooter-user-pootles-road-three-wooden-panels-crammed-buggy.html">https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8314975/Mobility-scooter-user-pootles-road-three-wooden-panels-crammed-buggy.html

[2https://www.gov.uk/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-rules">https://www.gov.uk/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-rules

[3https://metro.co.uk/2020/08/12/pensioner-drives-mobility-scooter-fast-lane-motorway-causing-traffic-chaos-13118272/">https://metro.co.uk/2020/08/12/pensioner-drives-mobility-scooter-fast-lane-motorway-causing-traffic-chaos-13118272/

[4https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/a63-mobility-scooter-scooter-lorry-4374668">https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/a63-mobility-scooter-scooter-lorry-4374668

[5https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/mobility-scooter-pulled-over-police-18281123">https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/mobility-scooter-pulled-over-police-18281123

[6https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7255251/oap-claims-discrimination-kfc/">https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7255251/oap-claims-discrimination-kfc/.

[7https://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/business/consumer/mobility-scooter-rider-who-was-first-queue-when-mcdonalds-drive-thru-reopened-was-told-its-not-vehicle-were-not-serving-you-2876966">https://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/business/consumer/mobility-scooter-rider-who-was-first-queue-when-mcdonalds-drive-thru-reopened-was-told-its-not-vehicle-were-not-serving-you-2876966

[8https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink/mcdonalds-drive-thru-window-rules-4192111">https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink/mcdonalds-drive-thru-window-rules-4192111

[9https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/business/consumer/disabled-man-denied-triple-cheeseburger-mcdonalds-drive-through-gosport-because-he-was-mobility-scooter-2980588%e2%80%9d">https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/business/consumer/disabled-man-denied-triple-cheeseburger-mcdonalds-drive-through-gosport-because-he-was-mobility-scooter-2980588%e2%80%9d

[10https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1540868/man-drunk-in-charge-of-mobility-scooter-breathalysed-by-cops-after-refusing-to-leave-mcdonalds-drive-thru-in-skegness/">https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1540868/man-drunk-in-charge-of-mobility-scooter-breathalysed-by-cops-after-refusing-to-leave-mcdonalds-drive-thru-in-skegness/

[11https://archive.news.stv.tv/east-central/1407323-drunk-woman-drove-mobility-scooter-into-oncoming-traffic.html">https://archive.news.stv.tv/east-central/1407323-drunk-woman-drove-mobility-scooter-into-oncoming-traffic.html

[12https://www.independentliving.co.uk/mobility-scooters-not-vehicles/">https://www.independentliving.co.uk/mobility-scooters-not-vehicles/

[13https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/rules-for-drivers-and-motorcyclists-alcohol-and-drugs.html">https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/rules-for-drivers-and-motorcyclists-alcohol-and-drugs.html

[14https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/17435038.worcester-mobility-scooter-user-drives-oncoming-traffic/">https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/17435038.worcester-mobility-scooter-user-drives-oncoming-traffic/

[15https://thiis.co.uk/global-mobility-scooter-market-forecast-to-hit-1-64bn-by-2026-as-strong-growth-set-to-continue/">https://thiis.co.uk/global-mobility-scooter-market-forecast-to-hit-1-64bn-by-2026-as-strong-growth-set-to-continue/

[16https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/17445157.mobility-scooter-users-want-action-worcester-tunnel/">https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/17445157.mobility-scooter-users-want-action-worcester-tunnel/

[17https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/53-times-mobility-scooters-been-1867895">https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/53-times-mobility-scooters-been-1867895

[19https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mobility-scooter-knock-down-elderly-women-cctv-video-aaron-ali-welling-kent-a8557141.html">https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mobility-scooter-knock-down-elderly-women-cctv-video-aaron-ali-welling-kent-a8557141.html

[20https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/road-accidents-and-safety-statistics">https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/road-accidents-and-safety-statistics

[21https://thiis.co.uk/government-calls-on-mobility-retailers-to-ensure-customer-safety-amid-rising-accidents/">https://thiis.co.uk/government-calls-on-mobility-retailers-to-ensure-customer-safety-amid-rising-accidents/

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