A Highway Code for Users
Why should we have a highway code for electric scooters?
When in charge of a car you are in charge of a potentially lethal weapon”. – To claim a scooter or wheelchair falls into the same category would be a bit dramatic, but it is still possible to do considerable damage to yourself and others.
Which Highway Code category do scooters come into?
The categories of road users in the Highway Code are pedestrians, cyclists, motor cyclists, and motorists. As a wheelchair / scooter users you do not really fit any of these categories. You may however partly fit into all of them.
Road or footpath?
Some scooters can only be driven safely on the footpath, except for crossing roads. Others are designed so that they can be driven safely on the road. This does not necessarily make it SAFE to do so. To drive safely on the road it is advisable to have a vehicle capable of doing 6/8 miles an hour, equipped with headlights, rear lights, flashing indicators, and a horn. Even with all this you must not use dual carriageways, bus lanes or cycle tracks.
Under no circumstances is it permissible for scooters to be driven on motorways.
Understanding how the Highway Code affects you as a mobility scooter user is important.
Here are a few highlights to remember:
When can I drive on the road or pavement?
Before you go anywhere, check which classification your mobility scooter comes under. It will either be a ‘Class 2’ 4mph scooter that can only be driven on the pavement or an 8mph ‘Class 3’ scooter that can be driven legally on the road as well. However, this does not mean it is always safe to drive on the road, as you always need to consider you are a lot smaller, slower and less protected than surrounding vehicles. If you do decide to use the road, you must follow the Highway Code as if driving a car such as travelling on the left hand side, using lights at night and obeying all traffic signs and signals.
On the pavement
If you are on the footpath pedestrians still have right of way so you must yield to people walking. Please give them plenty of space and time to move out of the way. This is especially important for elderly pedestrians who may have visual or hearing impairments and young children who might not be aware of you as quickly. Incidentally, three-wheel scooters are more suitable for shopping trips as they offer excellent manoeuvrability when negotiating through crowds of people and around shop aisles.
The Highway Code advises that when moving off a pavement you should take extra care – remember the Green Cross Code from years ago!? It is best to always look for drop kerbs as these keep you more stable even if you need to go out of your way to find one. If there aren’t any nearby, then approach the kerb completely face-on so you do not tip sideways as you mount or dismount the pavement. It is always important to check the guidance provided with your scooter in regards to the height of kerbs that can be safely tackled. This ensures that these raised surfaces do not exceed the capabilities of your scooter or put you at risk. Obviously the safest place to cross a road is on a pedestrian crossing.
Class 2 scooters with a top speed of 4mph are ideal for use on the pavement however if you use a Class 3, which is capable of higher speeds, it too must be limited to 4mph when driving near pedestrians.
On the road
Before considering use on the road, ensure your scooter is a Class 3 vehicle and fully equipped for this type of travel. This means it must have headlights, rear lights, flashing indicators, mirror and a horn. It is advisable to wear high visibility clothing throughout the day and Mendip Mobility can provide a wide selection of useful items that range from reflective adjustable armbands, flashing LED Smart bars and gilets.
Even if are wearing high visibility clothing, you must not drive on cycle or bus lanes and motorways are definitely a no go! You can technically drive on a dual carriageway with a flashing beacon however would recommend choosing an alternative route. If you are on the road take extra care at junctions even if travelling straight ahead to ensure no vehicle is going to cross your path. Always look behind before pulling out – using your mirrors alone may lead to a misjudgement of oncoming vehicle speed. There are several options to help with turning right which include –
• stopping by the left hand kerb and then crossing in one move when there is no oncoming traffic
• negotiating the turn similar to a pedestrian by crossing the road via as many pavements as possible.
Roundabouts can be potentially dangerous and again it is best to seek an alternative route instead of driving amongst circulating traffic.
With any mobility scooter, normal on-road parking restrictions apply similar to a car. If your need to leave your scooter unattended on the footpath, make sure it will not cause an obstruction to pedestrians and is located in a visible position. Members of the Blue Badge scheme are eligible for parking concessions, information about which can be located at: https://www.gov.uk/blue-badge-scheme-information-council
Looking after your scooter can really help with safety. Every scooter needs to be serviced annually by a reputable dealer so that qualified engineers can check every aspect of the product. This will give you the best product performance so that independence is not compromised and peace of mind is assured. However in between regular servicing appointments, there are a few ways to make sure you get the most out of your scooter:
Keep it clean
It is always worth regularly cleaning your scooter to improve safety.
By removing dirt from your lights you are far more visible to other road users. If your scooter has mirrors it is best to polish these so you have clear visibility to the rear.
Washing with soapy water (not with a jet wash) can help protect wheels and suspension. Tyres that are not covered in mud will provide greater range, a smoother ride and ensure braking is more responsive. It is also a good idea to clean your seat and vacuum the floor-well so durability is maximized.
Even though scooters are engineered with quality, durable components, cleaning bodywork, wheel arches and the undercarriage where possible can reduce the minimal risk of corrosion. Tyres that are not covered in mud will provide greater range, a smoother ride and ensure braking is still responsive when needed. Use of a jet wash can be appropriate around wheels and suspension however parts that contain intricate electrical circuits, such as the tiller and battery box, are better cleaned with a cloth. It is also a good idea to clean the seat with an appropriate leather spray and vacuum the floor well so durability is maximized.