Road Rules for Wheelchair Users
Did you know road rules apply to wheelchairs and mobility scooters? These pieces of equipment are essential for people with disability or limited mobility as a mode of getting around and can vastly improve their quality of life. However, whether you use a manual wheelchair or motorised mobility scooter, you need to follow the same road rules as pedestrians.
Read on to find out more about the key road rules when using a wheelchair and top tips for staying safe when you’re on the go:
What are the Road Rules for Wheelchair Users?
Mobility devices should only be used by people with disability or limited mobility. Road rules across Australia state that the user must have a reasonable need to have the device and be capable of operating it safely.
While it might seem like motorised wheelchairs or mobility scooters belong on the road, in fact they are designed to go anywhere a pedestrian can go. This includes footpaths, shopping centres and nature strips. As a general rule, motorised wheelchairs shouldn’t be driven on the road if there’s a footpath available. However, there are some exceptions if it’s impractical to do so. For example, roadworks are interfering with the usual route of the footpath, or the ground is heavily uneven and could damage the wheelchair.
Here’s a list of other basic road rules for wheelchair users which apply across the country:
- Motorised wheelchairs and scooters should be limited to 10km per hour on level ground.
- If you must travel on a road because a footpath is unavailable, then you need to travel on the other side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
- Under no circumstances should a wheelchair user enter a highway on their motorised device.
- It’s illegal to operate a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- You must cross roads at the shortest possible route.
- Always give way to bike riders when crossing a bicycle path.
How do Regulations differ from each State & Territory?
In Australia, each state and territory have slightly varying road rules when it comes to wheelchair users. For example, in Queensland if you use a motorised wheelchair or scooter on a footpath or road area, then it must be registered.
For rules that apply in your state or territory, refer to the resources below:
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
- Australian Capital Territory
Top Tips for Staying Safe in your Wheelchair
It’s important to feel confident while using a motorised wheelchair or mobility scooter when you’re out and about. You want to always ensure you’re safe and aware of your surroundings as you move along. Here are some of our top tips for remaining alert and safe in your wheelchair or scooter:
- Be Visible – Install a safety flag to your wheelchair or scooter or wear reflective clothing to enhance visibility. This is especially important at nighttime or poorly lit areas.
- Cross with Caution – Be extra cautious when crossing driveways or roads. There’s a clear height difference between you and a vehicle so other drivers might not see you as easily.
- Make Eye Contact with other Drivers – Before crossing a road, try to make eye contact with the driver to ensure they see you.
- Avoid using Headphones or Mobiles – Headphones and mobiles are distracting to use when you’re moving from A to B. If you really need to use your mobile or make calls while travelling, invest in a mobile mount accessory.
- Stick to the Footpaths – The safest place to travel is on the footpath, so where possible try and use them as much you can.
- Travel at a Low Speed – Unless you’re moving uphill, try to travel at a lower speed that allows you to stop quickly and with ease.
- Stay Balanced – Don’t overload your wheelchair or scooter with too many belongings that can add stress to the movement of your wheels and motor. If you need to carry things, make sure they’re evenly distributed to maintain balance.
If you’re concerned about collisions when you’re out and about in your wheelchair, Blue Badge Insurance offers comprehensive mobility scooter insurance, including third party injury and property coverage.