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Mobility scooters play an important role in the lives of many Americans. Because motorized mobility equipment is now more accessible, it has gained popularity in recent years. In this article, we have decided to talk to you about whether or not one can ride a mobility scooter on the road.
The big picture
In recent years, news outlets have reported incidents where mobility scooters have caused accidents. This is a direct result of models being used on the sidewalk and posing a threat to pedestrians, or them being used on the road alongside automobiles.
Not all devices of this sort are meant to be used on the highway. In fact, only class three electrical units are marketed as highway worthy because they come fitted with lights and because they can travel at higher speeds than other similar models.
Before you use your scooter on the highway, it is advisable that you consult your local legislation. This way, you can know for sure whether or not this is legal.
What is more, it should be pointed out that, in most cities, the legislation stipulates that mobility scooter users are classified as pedestrians. Therefore, they have the legal right to ride the devices in the same places where pedestrians are allowed to walk.
In the states where mobility device users are still regarded as pedestrians according to the law, the safety of the users is increased. Because these devices cannot reach high speeds, using them on the streets, alongside cars is highly risky.
Should mobility scooters be used on the road?
To put it simply, the answer is no. The risks associated with riding a mobility scooter on the open road are high. Users of these devices are often classified, under the law, as pedestrians and they should not use the open roads.
Although you might wear protective equipment, you still risk getting into accidents, especially because you are difficult to spot by other traffic participants. Also, not all devices can travel at high speeds and this might cause problems in traffic for car drivers.
What is more, because of the design of mobility scooters, users that are hit by vehicles can sustain serious injuries that might also cause death.
Rules for using mobility devices
Because most accidents that are caused by those who use mobility scooters happen in the first months of buying a device of this sort, it is vital that all owners take their time to get familiarized with the device before taking to the streets.
Moreover, it is important that all users know the basic rules of using these products. Depending on the state that one lives in, different laws might apply. Therefore, it is crucial that you do your homework beforehand.
It comes as no surprise that mobility devices such as scooters should only be utilized by people who have a disability or who experience difficulties walking. Additionally, these devices should not be used at high speeds, as this might lead to accidents and the injury of fellow pedestrians.
Because, in most cases, people who are using mobility devices are classified as pedestrians, they have to follow the same rules as pedestrians. For safety reasons, mobility equipment should not be used on the roads if sidewalks or footpaths are available.
Riding a motorized scooter or wheelchair while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is forbidden. If the local legislation requires it, all mobility equipment users should register their equipment.
All those who use a mobility scooter should know how to operate it safely and, even more importantly, in a responsible manner. For instance, it is best that you stay visible at all times. This is a must, especially if you are using the device at night, in difficult meteorological conditions, or when you are crossing roads.
Given that those who use these devices are less visible than pedestrians, because of the height difference, drivers might not be able to spot you easily. To make sure that you are effortless to be seen, it is recommended that you use lights and flags. Also, you should pay extra attention to what happens around you.
If possible, you should refrain from using the roads. The only time when you should ride on the road is if there is no other option at your disposal. When riding, you should watch for vehicles whenever you are exiting or entering driveways.
Although most models include storage space, you should not carry too many heavy items at once. This will only add more stress to the motor of the device and, consequently, it might make the scooter unbalanced.
Finally, to avoid accidents, you should not speed through crowds of people. Instead, you should match the speed of your scooter to the speed of the pedestrians around you. In some countries such as Australia, there are laws that prevent mobility scooter users from traveling at speeds higher than 6.21 mph.
Roadside assistance and insurance
Although it is not available in all states, roadside assistance is something that you can use in case you are experiencing troubles with your device. However, for extra safety, it is best that you carry a puncture kit and spare tubes that you can use in case the device breaks down.
If you plan on getting an insurance policy, you should look for one that covers the following aspects: third party liability, scooter damage, and theft. Plus, insurance can cover the costs of repairment in case of accidents or in the event that your device is vandalized.
There are many cases where mobility scooter users are targeted by thieves. In fact, recent studies have shown that, in the last couple of years, scooter theft rates have been rising significantly. To avoid this problem, there are a couple of things that you can do.
Firstly, you can invest in a high-quality anti-theft device such as padlocks, u-locks, chains or immobilizers. Also, when you are at home, you should store the device in a secure area. It is advisable that you lock it to an anchor point and that you place it somewhere where it is not easy to see from the road.
Secondly, you should never leave the key in the scooter and you should not leave any possessions or valuables on the scooter when you are not around it.
Thirdly, before you use the model in the city, you should take some photographs of it and you should jot down its serial number. This will help police identify it correctly if stolen.
Finally, investing in an insurance policy might also help, especially if you are at risk of having the scooter stolen or vandalized. An insurance policy of this sort is particularly handy if you live in a neighborhood where acts of vandalism are common.
After taking into consideration all the points that we have made, it seems like mobility scooters should not be used on the roads. Because their riders have the same rights and responsibilities as pedestrians under the law, they should ride the devices on the pavements when possible.
On top of that, scooter riders should also make sure that they are respectful to other pedestrians and that they do not cause accidents. Extra info about this topic can be found online.
If you want to be 100% sure that you are not breaking the law while using your mobility scooter, it is highly recommended that you consult the local legislation or that you talk to a police officer.