HC Deb 25 March 2004 vol 419 cc982-3W
Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) for what reasons electric-powered wheelchairs are restricted to a maximum speed of 8 mph when being used on a road; and if he will make a statement; [162916]

(2) if he will amend the Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988 to bring the maximum speed permitted thereunder into line with the maximum speed permitted for electric bicycles under The Motor Cycles, Etc (EC type approval) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I.1099/2003). [163175]

Dr. Howells

Powered wheelchairs and powered scooters are designed to provide independent mobility for people with a physical disability. Their use is governed by The Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988 (SI 1988 No.2268). There are two classes of powered vehicle: class 2 vehicles are restricted to 4 mph (6.4 kph) and are designed to be used on footways; class 3 vehicles are restricted to 4 mph (6.4 kph) on the footway and 8mph (12.8kph) on the carriageway.

The vehicles are treated for the purposes of the Road Traffic Act as not being motor vehicles and are, therefore, outside the scope of most requirements of road vehicle construction regulations. Users do not need a driving licence and are not subject to a test.

The speed of 8 mph (12.8 kph) was set following consultation with disability organisations, industry and road safety groups and was intended to provide a balance between the needs of the users for local outdoor mobility and road safety concerns both for the users and for others on the road. We are currently reviewing the regulations and we will be holding a wide-ranging consultation later this year on a range of issues including speed limits.

Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 18 March 2004,Official Report, column 405W, on motorised scooters, what research his Department has commissioned on deaths and injuries involving Class 2 and Class 3 invalid carriages. [163843]

Mr. McNulty

The Department for Transport has commissioned research as part of a major review of the legislation governing the use of Class 2 and Class 3 invalid carriages on the highway. The first stage of the research is to estimate the numbers of these vehicles that are being used and to find out how many accidents or incidents there are involving them. This stage of the work should be completed shortly.

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