The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): In 2010, the Department for Transport undertook a consultation into possible reforms of the use on the highway of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs (referred to in legislation as “invalid carriages”).
I am today publishing the Department’s response to the consultation. A summary of the results of the consultation is also attached to that document.
I have concluded that no changes should be made regarding the following issues, which formed part of the consultation:
speed limits and maximum permitted speeds;
the minimum age for using a class 3 vehicle; and
the law relating to the use of a mobility scooter by only one person.
I do not, at this stage, propose that there should be an alternative to the current arrangements for registering class 3 vehicles or any additional requirements for making vehicles conspicuous, such as adding reflective strips to vehicles or a requirement on users to wear high-visibility jackets. I have decided that the maximum unladen weight of class 2 powered wheelchairs should be increased to 150 kgs, but that the class 2 mobility scooter should stay at the current maximum unladen weight of 113.4 kgs.
I have also decided that the legal term “invalid carriage” should be replaced with a more suitable and contemporary term, and have asked officials to consider how this might be achieved, recognising that unfortunately, the term is set by primary legislation.
I indicated in parliamentary answers last autumn (26 October 2011, Official Report, column 249W and 27 October 2011, Official Report, column 284W) that I was considering the case for mandatory eyesight testing. I have concluded that this is not necessary for users of class 2 vehicles, but in response to points made by respondents to the consultation, I believe the position in respect of class 3 scooters requires further consideration. To that end, I intend to convene a meeting of interested parties to review the available evidence and options, including matters relating to insurance and the use of specialist training providers. I am conscious of the crucial role such vehicles play in some people’s lives and that will be an important factor in deciding what further actions, if any, to take.
From 2013, the police will be able to record whether a vehicle has been involved in an accident on the public highway, but I have also asked officials to examine how current legislation aimed at reducing accidents could be better enforced.
The Transport Select Committee invited the Department to look into the carriage of mobility scooters on public transport. The Confederation of Passenger Transport has produced a code of practice regarding carriage on buses, while train operators have their own individual arrangements. I have asked my Department to work with transport operators and the industry to develop a kite marking scheme for public transport, which would enable a disabled person to have more confidence that they can travel with their mobility scooter—this work is currently underway. I have also asked officials to work with the industry on suitable designs for public transport. I will report back on this work as soon as possible.
I am also publishing today improved guidance and information for mobility vehicle users.