One of the most commonly asked questions about owning and operating a mobility scooter is whether one can drive them on the road. Because these vehicles typically go much faster than a standard walking pace, many owners of mobility scooters would like to drive on the road to make their travels easier. Below we will discuss just exactly how legal or illegal it is to operate a mobility scooter on the road.
So, is it illegal to drive a mobility scooter on the road? The general gist of it is that only some mobility scooters are allowed to be used on the road. If a mobility scooter has a high enough top speed, usually at around eight miles per hour, then it will be allowed to be operated on the side of the road close to the sidewalk.
Even though a mobility scooter is technically a motorized vehicle, it is very important to understand that all riders of a mobility scooter are still legally considered to be pedestrians. That means that even if you were to use the fastest mobility scooter ever made you still would have to obey the rules of someone walking around on their own two feet.
Road-legal mobility scooters still have to use crosswalks, obey traffic light rules and avoid the center of the road just like walking pedestrians do. The main difference is that similarly to bicycle riders a mobility scooter rider is allowed to operate on the road as long as they stay as close to the sidewalk as possible.
Answering the question of “what makes a mobility scooter road-legal” is still a little dicey even to this day. In most cities, there is no law against riding a mobility scooter. The way it works is that mobility scooter laws are determined by municipal bylaws. That means that the exact details of road legality for mobility scooters will probably differ a little bit from city to city.
What you can typically expect is that road-legal mobility scooters have to be able to achieve a certain top speed to be allowed on the road. In many cases, this max speed has to be eight miles per hour. This is because slower mobility scooters have a higher chance of slowing down traffic for automobile users.
In some cities, there are even more rules to follow for a mobility scooter to be road-legal. These rules include that your mobility scooter must have a horn, a rearview mirror, have a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds or more, and have a certain width that doesn’t exceed 30 or so inches. Your road-legal mobility scooter also should have an effective braking system as well in the event of a potential accident.
While understanding the legality of mobility scooters can be a little complicated, it is still very important to know if you plan on ever bringing your mobility scooter on the road. For the sake of your safety, the safety of automobile drivers and even the safety of other pedestrians understanding these laws is a necessary part of being a responsible mobility scooter operator.
What we discussed above are general guidelines that are true for many cities, but please make sure to research the by-laws of your city so that you have a perfect understanding of the place of road-legal mobility scooters in your area. This will protect you and protect others.