With the increased use of motorized mobility scooters by individuals with disabilities worldwide, the rights of mobility scooter operators and safety have become important topics. In the U.K., serious accidents involving mobility scooters have produced severe injuries and deaths over the last few years, triggering heated debates about laws and safety regarding the use of these vehicles.
Mobility vehicle use has grown in the U.S., particularly in states such as Florida, California, and Arizona, where the climate is conducive to year-round use. While the U.S. has not been a hotbed for mobility scooter debates, we’ve witnessed increasing injuries and deaths involving recreational motor scooter accidents on our roads. Motorized scooters are classified differently than mobility scooters. For information on safety information for motor scooters, click here.
A motor scooter has handlebars to steer and a flat area for feet, and typically does not have a seat – so the driver stands to ride. In contrast, a mobility scooter is designed with a seat, a flat area for feet, two wheels in the back and one or two wheels in the front, and a steering mechanism in front. Mobility scooters are usually battery powered although scooters that use gasoline are also available.
According the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, covered entities (businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the public) must permit people with disabilities to go anywhere the general public is permitted to be. Thus, businesses and other organizations must allow motorized mobility scooters and motorized wheelchairs in their facilities or provide another service to accommodate these individuals.
Akin to Florida, most U.S. states and cities do not require that the operator have a license to operate a power wheelchair or motorized mobility vehicle. Similarly, mobility scooters are not designed to be used on roads or bike lanes. In fact, operating a mobility scooter on a road or bike lane is extremely dangerous and prohibited in most locations. Mobility scooters should be used exclusively on sidewalks and other public areas where pedestrians walk.
If you or a loved one uses a mobility scooter, we recommend these safety tips:
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