Mobility scooters controversially omitted from changes to compulsory motor insurance requirements
Recently, the European Parliament passed proposed changes concerning which vehicles require compulsory vehicle insurance, however, excluded vehicles including mobility scooters due to concerns of discouraging innovation.
On the 13th February 2019, the European Parliament formally accepted proposed changes to the Motor Insurance Directive (MIP) following a review carried out by the European Commission in May 2018. The changes considered a range of topics relating to the insurance of vehicles across EU members, including clearer guidance regarding which vehicles require compulsory insurance cover.
Outlining insurance should be compulsory for vehicles that are used in traffic and performing the vehicle’s primary function as a means of transport, the proposed changes define “in traffic” as “the use of a vehicle in circulation on public and private roadways.”
Based on this definition, the Directive states that “when a vehicle is used in traffic at any point and is therefore subject to a compulsory insurance requirement, Member States should ensure that the vehicle is covered by an insurance policy that includes potential injured parties, during the period of the contract, regardless of whether the vehicle is used in traffic or not at the time of the accident, except where the vehicle is used in a motorsports event.”
Despite the two definitions being applicable to both class 2 and 3 scooters, with both being used on public pathways and roadways, the proposals purposely do not extend to new types of motor vehicles, including mobility scooters.
Whilst the UK government recommends users to take out insurance, currently, mobility scooter insurance is not compulsory for either class 2 or class 3 scooters, despite a legal requirement for users to register class 3 mobility scooters with the DVLA for road use.
For class 3 mobility scooter users wishing to exceed more than 4mph, the scooter must be used on the road and are prohibited from travelling faster than 8mph, as well as requiring front and rear lights and reflectors, an efficient braking system, direction indicators able to operate as a hazard warning signal, an audible horn, and a rear-view mirror.
Additionally, mobility scooter users are permitted to travel on dual carriageways, with users being required to use an amber flashing light for visibility.
The justification behind the decision to exclude mobility scooters was that compulsory insurance would “discourage innovation,” as well as citing the lack of damage caused following a mobility scooter accident in comparison to that of larger vehicles, such as cars.
The decision to omit mobility scooters from requiring compulsory insurance may prove controversial as mobility scooter accidents continue to make headlines, with various calls from inside and outside the industry for action to be taken to curb the rising number of incidents involving the devices.
Recently, some mobility retailers and suppliers, as well as local councils, have taken steps to address the problem of scooter safety with their own initiatives, such as TGA’s joint supplier/dealer scooter safety events, Oxfordshire County Council’s scooter training course, People First Mobility’s scooter safety awareness days and more.
Despite these initiatives however, calls from the public for central government intervention have been rising, with the BHTA’s former Director-General Ray Hodgkinson MBE urging the mobility industry to tackle the problem and self-regulate before regulations are imposed.
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