Proposal to give more independence to users of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs

Admin 2 Foyle, Press Releases, Stormont

The proposal is to increase the limits to a maximum of 200kg in order to support increased mobility for those users with acute medical needs.
Mark H Durkan said: “Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs are vital to giving independence to people who have difficulty walking or who cannot walk at all. I am fully supportive of improving the quality of life and opportunities for users of these vehicles.
“That is why I am proposing to increase the upper weight limit for mobility vehicles to help enable greater mobility for people who must carry medical equipment with them.”
Heavier mobility vehicles and powered wheelchairs could pose a greater safety risk to other road users, especially pedestrians, in the event of a collision. The proposal would minimise this risk by maintaining existing weight limits, providing flexibility only where there is an acute medical need and setting a limit on the weight of a mobility vehicle with any necessary user equipment.
Minister Durkan highlighted: “I must however be mindful of any potential impacts on road safety and other road users and am therefore seeking views on this proposal. Once views have been received I will give careful consideration on how to proceed.”
The Omnibus Partnership has provided its support for the proposal. The Omnibus Partnership is a grassroots organisation of disabled people, including people with learning difficulties, mobility impairments, sensory impairments and wheelchair users, working for inclusion in our society.
David McDonald, Chairperson of The Omnibus Partnership said: “To be a wheelchair user is not a choice but a necessity. Being a wheelchair user does not begin as, but becomes an essential style of life. The same is the case for significant numbers of users of scooters, who could not get out and about without such machines. It is a lifestyle which gives freedom, independence and choice.”
Mr McDonald continued: “For 20 years, I have been a wheelchair user. In that time, I have had four powered wheelchairs, each one, according to changes in my needs, heavier than the last. Recent advances in medical science and access to our streets, buildings and transport have driven an increase in weightier wheelchairs and scooters. And, just like mine, increasingly, many include essential additions, such as longer lasting batteries, oxygen cylinders, attendant controls. Clear recognition of this by our society is vital.”
Mr McDonald concluded: “I welcome these proposed increases in the maximum weight limits. Certainly, it gives me and, I am sure, will give others, confidence that we can live long, and legally, into the future.”
The consultation will open on 22 July and close on 16 September 2015.

Admin 2Proposal to give more independence to users of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs