Could mobility scooter ownership be better regulated?

Pass through any high street in the UK and there is a good chance you will spot more than one mobility scooter.   The tumbling price and wide availability of scooters, combined with the welcome independence they provide people with restricted movement, has made it an affordable and desirable lifestyle choice for many.  If you don’t own one yourself there’s a good chance you may know someone who does.  Nobody would wish to deny users this transformative, and in some cases critical, free movement but the lack of regulations surrounding scooter ownership and storage will soon be under focus.

Weighing between 100-180 kilos and able to reach speeds of 8mph, it may come as a surprise that no examination or test is required before a mobility scooter can be purchased and used. Even if you have never driven before, it is currently only the duty of the dealer to spend time with the new owner to ensure it is being used safely. Once this has been done, a new user is allowed on the road providing they have full lights and indicators and a maximum recommended speed is maintained at 6-8mph.

While it is illegal to travel at more than 4 mph on the pavement, the onus is on the owners of 8 mph scooters to put it into the low range.  Parking restrictions are confusing at best as they aren’t regulated and can vary from area to area.   Specialist insurance is not currently a legal requirement but optional public liability cover can be taken for peace of mind in case of any mishap.  There are no regulations dictating when a scooter is serviced with the onus on the dealer to provide the necessary back-up and support for their customers.

A major attraction of mobility scooters isn’t just how cheap they are to purchase and register, Class 3 mobility scooters require DVLA registration but have a nil-rated tax disc, but how extraordinarily cheap they are to operate. Charging a battery overnight will cost about 10p and is required by most mobility scooters in order to prolong the battery life and ensure the scooter is operable even when it is overloaded with shopping bags and other items. Battery care is very important and should last from 18 months to two years with average use providing it is well looked after.

With bargain scooters now readily available to purchase online through retailers like Amazon, the question has to be asked whether scooter owners are fully aware of the responsibilities and potential risks of ownership without a local dealership providing that service.

At metroSTOR, we’ve previously highlighted the tremendous fire risk mobility scooters pose if they aren’t stored correctly and charged in compliance with fire safety guidelines. With volatile and unpredictable lithium iron phosphate (LiFeP04) batteries, replacing lead acid ones, temperatures can reach 375°C within 3 minutes of ignition.  This obvious threat to private and social tenants is becoming a major concern and leading to funded projects, like the BRE Trust and Welwyn Garden City Housing Association (WGC HA) one, examining the characteristics of burning mobility scooters and planning for such an eventuality.

As experts in outbuilding storage, it has long been a concern at metroSTOR that no dedicated fire safety regulations can offer guidance and peace of mind when considering the right storage solution.  We take fire safety extremely seriously and can offer meaningful guidance and considered solutions that will help you make the right choice.

If you are concerned about fire safety issues relating to outbuilding storage and would like to receive helpful updates and metroSTOR’s downloadable Fire Safety Guide please register your interest today.