We understand from research that there are rules in the Highway Code over the use of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters, in section 36 to 46, and these include rules for use both on pavements and roads. The trouble is with no written test to ensure users have read and understood these, and no practical test either to ensure competent use, the public are in danger of accidents and injuries. Of course accidents can still happen after someone has took a test, but at least it could reduce the risk, as at present there is no such test required.
As the law stands at present anyone can currently purchase a scooter regardless of mental ability, but of course in some cases mental ability and reactions could be impaired such as if someone is suffering from dementia, or even reduced sight. Surely this is wrong.
The current rules in the Highway Code advise of speed and awareness, but without this being enforced or tested, it is in effect just guidelines. There are countless examples of accidents we could quote here, you only need to look on line for such examples, but to enforce the importance of this issue we will detail some examples here.
A piece printed in the Daily Express on Friday 20th July 2018. The family of a former soldier, who died after crashing his mobility scooter, have described the lack of regulation governing the sale and use of scooters as scandalous. William Peaking from Derby suffered from Alzheimer’s disease drove his mobility scooter across a busy road without stopping or looking and was hit by a car. He died 10 months later, and his family were calling for action because although his driving license was taking away from him in 2014 there was nothing stopping him from purchasing a scooter, no medical questions asked if anything. His family tried but could not stop him driving it. His daughter-in-law, on the day she was granted daily living allowance as she had been declared registered blind, was given leaflets on getting around including information on mobility scooters. In the case of this man, the coroner found that although his accident was 10 months before he passed away, it was a contributing factor, and the Assistant Coroner promised to write to the Transport Secretary asking for a change in the law and also for certain medical checks to be carried out to access ability to be able to drive such a vehicle. They are not toys and can cause danger.
Reply from:- Clint D’Souza – Minister for Transport Representative on behalf of Road User Licensing, Insurance and Safety Division
You raise some concerns about the issue of mobility scooter safety for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other mental issues. Mobility vehicle users are encouraged to have an assessment with a dealer or supplier before acquiring a vehicle and to take training in their use. The law does not require people to provide proof that they have a physical defect or disability in order to qualify to use a mobility scooter.
It is strongly recommended that those who intend to use a mobility scooter avail themselves of existing advice and training and that they take out insurance cover. Creating a consistent, reliable mobility scooter policy which balances the interests of all road users continues to be a challenge. The department has no current plans to mandate the training, registration or insurance of mobility scooters, but it is committed to ensuring that users of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs remain safe, mobile and independent.
The department has developed a comprehensive guide for users of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs, including legal requirements, eyesight requirements and relevant Highway Code information. It is available to view at: https://www.gov.uk/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-rules.