Where can and can't mobility scooters be used?
Mobility scooters are commonplace on many US roads, and a recent survey found that over 1.7 million Americans use a wheelchair or scooter. They are undoubtedly an essential aspect of independence for those affected by disability, so following the rules which apply to them is vital. However, many users could be unaware of the regulations which apply to them while using their scooter.
A license is required for mobility scooters in most states and cities, and users must adhere to rules determined by the category of their scooters. Class three carriages are the only type permitted on main roads and highways, while class two carriages are limited to sidewalks. Federal law should be consulted should any hesitation arise where driving on main roads is concerned. Speed limits also apply in both cases, with class three carriages observing a maximum speed of twelve kilometers per hour, and second-class carriages mustn’t exceed six kilometers per hour.
Driving mobility scooters on US highways is only permitted for class 3 vehicles, but it is important to ensure that the scooter is fitted with lights and indicators. Those operating scooters are regarded as pedestrians, so by law they can be used in any pedestrianized area. Most cities and towns respect this status, and as a result every pedestrian using the sidewalk should always remain vigilant. Intersections and crosswalks should be the only time a pedestrian departs the sidewalk, to avoid any accidents. Rules may change depending on state law, so it is vital to be observant and seek guidance from a local authority if necessary.
Activities such as travel can have varying guidelines on the usage of mobility scooters. For example, most major US airports will allow scooters to be used within the terminal, but they are only permitted to be transported in the hold beneath the plane carriage. American Airlines can provide on-board wheelchairs for passengers, and most planes are able to accommodate up to one collapsible wheelchair.
Daily tasks such as shopping will usually facilitate scooters, as many malls are pedestrianized, and accessible facilities are signposted throughout the area. Speed should always be accommodating of the environment, in consideration of other shoppers. Scooters may also be challenged by sharp gradients, and occasionally locations with hills can be difficult to navigate. Becoming familiar with these general requirements is an essential for getting the most out of a mobility scooter.
Overall, the regulations on where you can and cannot use a mobility scooter are determined by the classification of the carriage itself. As a rule of thumb, class two carriages are generally not permitted anywhere other than the sidewalk (unless there is no pavement present) and do not need to be registered. Class three carriages are permitted on US highways when fitted with the correct indicators and lights.