I am announcing today the publication of the consultation on proposed changes to the laws governing the use of powered mobility vehicles and powered wheelchairs (referred to as “invalid carriages” in legislation). Copies of the consultation and impact assessment have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
The primary legislation governing mobility vehicles is the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (section 20). The Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1970 introduced the requirements for a powered invalid carriage with a speed not exceeding 4 mph (a class 2 vehicle is primarily for use on the pavement). The Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988 brought in additional requirements for a class 3 vehicle which can travel up to 8 mph on the road but must be limited to 4 mph on pavements.
A review of class 2 and class 3 vehicles was carried out on behalf of the Department for Transport in 2005. It estimated that there were between 70,000 and 100,000 vehicles in use. More recent information from the national travel survey, however, suggests that there may now be up to 330,000 people who have access to a mobility vehicle. The review also made some key recommendations: that vehicle users should have third-party insurance; that a simple fitness to drive assessment be developed; and that vehicle users should receive more advice and training in the use of mobility vehicles.
The 12-week consultation seeks views on a series of possible changes to existing legislation. The proposed changes are largely designed to make mobility vehicles safer when they are used on the footway and on the carriageway, and to improve redress when, very occasionally their use injures people. The main areas that the consultation addresses are: the legal classification; design standards, including the permitted unladen weights limits and safety features; possible reforms relating to vehicle users, including better information provision, training and fitness to drive, insurance and the registration of mobility vehicles.