Motorised mobility devices are considered essential equipment for people who, for medical or disability reasons, have difficulty walking. Since these devices are designed for use in public spaces, there are some rules governing who can use them and how they should be used.
So, let’s have a look at what you need to know about operating a motorised mobility device.
What is a motorised mobility device?
Motorised mobility devices include mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs.
According to the Road Safety Act, they are not considered vehicles and therefore do not need to be registered. They must have a maximum capable speed of 10kmph and weigh no more than 110kg (not including the weight of the passenger).
Can anyone use a motorised mobility device?
Only people who are unable to walk or have difficulty walking due to injury, disability or medical condition are permitted to use these devices. It is illegal for anyone else to use a motorised mobility device in public.
A statement from a doctor or occupational therapist is usually required to have legal permission to operate these devices in public in Victoria.
What are the licence requirements?
Since mobility devices are not considered vehicles, there are no licensing requirements to operate them. However, you must be physically able to safely operate one. Adequate eyesight, balance and posture, reflexes, dexterity and clear thinking are required to operate these devices. If you don’t meet these basic standards, your doctor or occupational therapist will probably recommend you don’t use a mobility device.
What are the applicable road rules?
People using these devices are considered pedestrians and must therefore follow the same rules as pedestrians when operating these devices in public places. These are laid out in the Victorian Road Safety Rules.
This means that when operating a mobility device, you must:
- Travel on the footpath whenever practical
- Use designated walking paths, not bike paths
- Travel facing oncoming traffic if you have to use the road
- Cross the road at appropriate pedestrian crossings
- Not obstruct the path of a driver or another pedestrian
- Not park in areas that block the path of pedestrians
- Give way to vehicles at roundabouts
- Obey all pedestrian signage and signals
Australian Standards and insurance
There are specific Australian Standards for the manufacture of mobility devices. However, these standards are voluntary so some suppliers may provide devices that don’t meet the standards. And this could mean that the device poses a danger to you or other pedestrians.
If you’re buying a scooter or wheelchair or considering mobility scooter hire, it’s a good idea to request a written statement of compliance from the supplier.
If you’re hiring a scooter, you should also check whether breakdown insurance is included.
Using public transport
In Victoria, all trains are wheelchair accessible and have allocated spaces for passengers using mobility aids. Train drivers can provide ramps at the door of the first carriage to help you on and off.
Most of the major tram routes around Melbourne have low-floor trams that are wheelchair and mobility device accessible. However, older high-floor trams have steps and are not suitable for these devices. Additionally, not all tram stops are wheelchair accessible. You can visit the Yarra Trams website to find out more.
Most buses in Victoria are low-floor and wheelchair and mobility device accessible. Drivers can assist by lowering the bus floor and deploying ramps. Low-floor buses have allocated spaces for passengers using wheelchairs or mobility aids.
You can find out more about operating a motorised mobility device in Victoria by visiting the VicRoads website.