A guide to the considerations to take into account when buying or hiring an electric mobility scooter
Buying the right mobility scooter to suit your needs can give you many years of enjoyment and convenience. This guide will hopefully make choosing the right scooter a lot easier. Types of invalid carriage and legislation is also included in this guide
Buy Mobility Scooters at Focus on Disability
If you suffer from mobility problems an electric mobility scooter will enable you to independently regain activities such as shopping, visiting friends and generally getting out and about.
Points to consider:-
Will the main use of the mobility scooter be indoors or outdoors
This is a major factor when choosing a mobility scooter to suit your needs. If your main use will be indoors a lightweight scooter may suffice with good maneuverability and a small turning circle.
For mainly outdoor use a more stable and speedier model should be considered to cope with the uneven surfaces encountered. Consider a more powerful mobility scooter if you need to climb steep hills and curbs. A 4 wheel mobility scooter is far more stable than a 3 wheel one.
If you plan to travel on roads a mobility scooter should have a maximum speed of 8mph and have headlights and taillights (see Legislation regarding Mobility Scooters below).
Your mobility scooter and your home.
Make sure before you buy that you can get in and out of your home with the mobility scooter and you have somewhere safe and secure to store it. It’s convenient to have access to an electrical socket for recharging when stored.
Comfort and access
It sounds obvious, but do make sure the scooter suits your physique and you are capable of learning how to safely drive it. You may be very tall and need extra leg room or a swivel seat may be helpful to get on and off.
Transporting a mobility scooter.
You need to consider this if you envisage travelling with your mobility scooter in a vehicle. There are vehicles designed to carry mobility scooters and wheelchairs. If you don’t have access to one of these a compact scooter that can be folded to put in a car may be the only solution. Make sure any buses or trains you wish to use will take your mobility scooter before you travel.
For every day activities you can obtain boxes and carriers that attach to mobility scooters to carry shopping etc. There are canopies that fit over scooters and clothing to protect you in bad weather. You can also get walking stick holders and even attachments that will carry a wheelchair.
Make sure the distances you wish to travel during the day can be achieved with the mobility scooter fully charged.
Legislation regarding Mobility Scooters
Mobility scooters are regarded as Class 3 invalid carriages
Types of invalid carriages.
There are three types of invalid carriages:
- Class 1 – manual wheelchairs, that is self-propelled or attendant-propelled, not powered
- Class 2 – powered wheelchairs and scooters, for footway use only with a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour (mph) and a maximum unladen weight of 113.4 kilograms
- Class 3 – powered wheelchairs and scooters, for use on roads/highways with a maximum speed of 8 mph and the facility to limit the maximum speed to 4 mph for use when travelling on footways, and with a maximum unladen weight of 150 kilograms.
You must register a class 3 vehicle with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Where class 3 vehicles can be used
You can use your class 3 scooter or wheelchair:
- on footpaths, pavements, bridleways and pedestrian areas at a maximum speed of 4 mph
- on most roads at a maximum speed of 8 mph
You must not used it on motorways, cycle lanes or in bus lanes.
You should avoid using it on dual carriageways with a speed limit of over 50 mph. If you do use your scooter or powered wheelchair on a dual carriageway, you must use an amber flashing light for visibility.
A class 3 vehicle is not legally defined as a motor vehicle. For this reason, the user is not required to have a driving licence or to take a test. You have to be at least 14 years old to drive a class 3 vehicle.
You must not use your scooter or wheelchair if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication that may affect your driving ability. If you are in any doubt, consult your doctor.
A class 3 vehicle can only be used by a non-disabled person if that person is:
- demonstrating a vehicle before sale
- training a disabled user
- taking the vehicle to or from a place for maintenance or repair
You do not have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty – commonly called road tax – but you do need to register your scooter of wheelchair with the DVLA and display a ‘nil duty’ tax disc. Registration plates are not needed for a class 3 vehicle
You do not have to take out insurance, although it is strongly recommended that you do.
The vehicle must have certain construction features, including:
- a maximum unladen weight of 150 kilograms (330 pounds)
- a maximum width of 0.85 metres (2 feet and 9 inches)
- a device to limit its speed to 4 mph (6.4 kilometres per hour)
- a maximum speed of 8 mph (12.8 kilometres per hour)
- an efficient braking system
- front and rear lights and reflectors
- direction indicators which are able to operate as a hazard warning signal
- an audible warning instrument (horn)
- a rear view mirror
- an amber flashing light if it is used on a dual carriageway
If these conditions are not met, you may be prosecuted by the police.
How to register and license a class 3 invalid carriage
- Class 3 invalid carriages need to be registered for road use, be licensed in the ‘disabled’ taxation class and display a nil duty tax disc.
- Invalid carriages do not need to provide evidence of Vehicle Excise Duty exemption when licensing in the disabled class. They are also exempt from paying the first registration fee.
- To register and license a class 3 invalid carriage, you need to complete form V55/5 for used vehicles, or V55/4 for new vehicles. Send the completed form, together with evidence of the vehicle’s age (if available) and documentation confirming the keeper’s name and address to your nearest DVLA local office.
- You cannot license your class 3 invalid carriage at a Post Office branch or by using the Electronic Vehicle Licensing service.
- Once your invalid carriage is registered with DVLA, you should automatically be sent a 12-month tax disc directly from the DVLA before the expiry of your current tax disc.