Q805: What are the rules relating to the use of invalid carriages?
Whilst the legislation makes reference to the term invalid carriage, increasingly such vehicles are being referred to as mobility scooters or mobility vehicles.
How many types of mobility vehicle are there?
There are three types of mobility vehicle:
Class 1 (manual wheelchairs) – self/attendant propelled and not electrically powered;
Class 2 (powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters) – intended for footpath or pavement use only with a maximum speed limit of 4 mph;
Class 3 (powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters) – for use on the road, with a maximum speed limit of 8 mph but with the facility to travel at 4 mph on a footpath or pavement.
Other electrically powered vehicles such as golf buggies may look similar to mobility vehicles but they are not 'invalid carriages' within the meaning of the law and so may not be used on the public highway, pavement etc.
Who can use a mobility vehicle?
Class 2 and 3 vehicles may only be used by a disabled person – defined as a person with an injury, physical disability or medical condition that means they are unable to walk or have difficulty in walking. Exemptions exist for people who are demonstrating them, training others to use them or taking them for maintenance/repair. Note that you have to be 14 or over to use a class 3 mobility vehicle.
Where can mobility vehicles be used?
All vehicles (class 1, 2 and 3) can be used on footpaths, pavements, bridleways , and in pedestrian areas at a maximum speed of 4 mph. Class 1 and 2 vehicles can be used on the road if a pavement is not available or to cross the road.
Class 3 vehicles can be used on most roads at a maximum speed of 8 mph. Class 3 vehicles cannot be used on motorways, in bus lanes when in operation or 'cycle only' cycle lanes. They should not be used on dual carriageways with a speed limit over 50 mph but if they are they must display an amber flashing light so they can be seen. Indeed, it is advisable to display an amber flashing light on all dual carriageways.
As can be seen from the above, class 3 mobility vehicles are restricted to 4 mph on the pavement and 8 mph on the road. As a result of this they must by law be equipped with a speed indicator.
Does a mobility vehicle have to be registered?
Class 3 mobility vehicles, new or used, must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). To register you must complete form V55/4 for new vehicles or V55/5 for used vehicles – the forms are available from the Post Office or via the DVLA online form order service at:
Send the completed form to DVLA Swansea, SA99 1BE. Note:
a. You can't license your class 3 invalid carriage online or at Post Offices.
b. Include evidence of the vehicle's age (if available) and documents showing the keeper's name and address.
If you need further information about this you can contact the DVLA Contact Centre on 0300 790 6802.
Do I need insurance?
Whilst it is not a legal requirement to have insurance for a mobility vehicle, it is strongly advised that people take out insurance to cover personal safety, other people's safety and the value of the vehicle. In some cases your household insurance may provide cover but you would need to check this with your insurance provider.
Can I carry passengers?
Mobility vehicles designed to carry two people cannot be used on the pavement or road because they don't meet the definition of an invalid carriage in law. With regard to children, the law does not explicitly state that an adult carrying an infant in a sling/pouch is unlawful. However, it is not permitted to carry anyone else on a mobility vehicle e.g. children standing on the vehicle etc.
Is there an eyesight test?
There are no legal eyesight requirements in relation to using a mobility vehicle but it is important to have good eyesight and be able to judge distances, recognise hazards etc. If the user of a mobility vehicle were involved in an accident and it was found that the driver had poor eyesight, it could be deemed to be a contributory factor and could make the user liable to a claim. It is suggested that users should have a minimum visual acuity of 6/24 – you can check this with your optician.
What about medication and health?
If you take medication that makes you feel drowsy you should consider whether it is safe to use a mobility vehicle and consult your doctor. You should not use a mobility vehicle if you have consumed alcohol.
Travelling on public transport
All three classes of mobility vehicle may be taken on buses/trains providing the bus/train is constructed to carry a 'reference wheelchair' and your wheelchair fits those dimensions – buses are restricted to one wheelchair space. It is always advisable to contact rail operators etc. beforehand to ensure suitable facilities are available.
What advice can you offer in relation to travelling on the road?
The Highway Code now has a section in relation to powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters – see link in related information.
You should also ensure that you are familiar with the traffic signs and road markings etc. contained in the Highway Code – see link in related information.
Before going out on your mobility vehicle always check to make sure it is fully charged. You should also always carry a fully charged mobile phone with you when you go out (that you know how to use), so that you can contact someone if you need to.
Try to plan your route to avoid busy roads and rush hour traffic and aim to travel for as much as possible on the pavement (remember a class three vehicle is restricted to 4 mph when on the pavement). You must be vigilant when travelling on the pavement because pedestrians may not hear you coming. Take particular care where young children are concerned as they can dart about and change direction very quickly.
Take care not to unbalance your mobility vehicle with shopping and make sure you follow the manufacturer's guidance so that you don't overload it. Never hang shopping bags on the handlebars etc. Take care when negotiating sharp corners or roads with an adverse camber/gradient – make sure you slow down in plenty of time. If your mobility vehicle is fitted with a lap belt always use it even if you're only going on a short journey.
How about travelling at night?
Both class 2 and 3 mobility vehicles must display lights when used at night - you may also wish to wear a fluorescent jacket to make you more conspicuous.
What if I break down?
Check with the dealer that you bought the vehicle from to see if they have any schemes available that cover you if your mobility vehicle breaks down. You should always carry a fully charged mobile phone with you when you go out so that you are able to contact someone if you need to.
Are there any training courses?
Some local authorities do provide courses so you will need to check with your local council. Additionally, the following address may be of use:
National Federation of Shopmobility
Where can I find out more information?
Department for Transport
Sustainable Travel and Equalities
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London, SW1P 4DR.
Tel: 020 7944 2046