Mobility Scooter Laws
If you have just bought a mobility scooter (or are planning on buying one soon), there are a few things you should consider ...
The first thing you should know is that there are often rules and laws regarding mobility scooters in each municipality. Check with your local authorities first about what the rules are. While most cities are very accommodating to electric mobility scooters, you don't want to break the law! One law found in many jurisdictions that mobility scooter owners may be surprised to discover is that if you ride a scooter you are considered a pedestrian... not a vehicle operator.
As such, you'll need to stay off the roads as much as possible (unless, of course, the sidewalks are impassable). However, recent court cases have found that driving a powered mobility scooter while impaired could lead to a fine under the motorized vehicles act in your state!
Most states will only allow these Neighborhood Electric Scooters to be operated on residential streets or neighborhood with posted speed limit of 35 mph or less.
When you get a mobility scooter, be sure to deck it out with reflectors, reflector tape, and a tall, bright orange flag. That will help motorists see you if you have to travel in the dark and are forced to travel on the road (if, for example, there are no sidewalks where you live). Put reflector tape across the back of the seat and the bottom of the scooter and consider a small flashing light like joggers wear. If possible, avoid being out late at night on your scooter if your scooter doesn't have headlights.
Is it legal to ride a mobility scooter on public roads?
A mobility scooter rider, as well as a person riding in a power wheelchar is a pedestrian, and can legally be ridden anywhere a pedestrian is allowed to walk.
That means that it no more belongs in a traffic lane than a pedestrian. There are places and situations where a pedestrian must cross or be in a traffic lane, but these situations would only occur when crossing a roadway, or if the regular sidewalk of footpath is inaccessible. In both of these cases, the chair rider should take the same precautions as any pedestrian, such as crossing only at intersections or crosswalks, ride the side of the road FACING traffic and exercise all the same caution as a pedestrian.
That means that these scooters should not use traffic lanes, turning lanes or any part of the roadways reserved for motor vehicles.
The point of having these scooters and chairs is for folks like your mother to be ABLE to go to the store, the movies or visit friends.
Certified Instructor, National Safety Council Defensive Driving Course 4.
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