What is a motorised wheelchair?
It is a motorised version of a wheelchair or a similar device, such as a mobility device scooter or 'gopher'. A wheelchair means a chair mounted on two or more wheels. A motorised wheelchair does not include a wheeled recreational device such as a scooter, pram, stroller, trolley or any other motor assisted device.
Who may use a motorised wheelchair?
Motorised wheelchairs have been specially built to transport people who are unable to walk, or have difficulty walking.
Is a motorised wheelchair required to be registered in NSW?
No, motorised wheelchairs do not require registration in NSW. A motorised wheelchair is not required to have third party insurance.
Does a motorised wheelchair user require a licence in NSW?
No, a licence is not a requirement for using a motorised wheelchair in NSW.
Is a motorised wheelchair user considered to be a pedestrian or a driver?
A motorised wheelchair user is generally considered to be a pedestrian, and therefore must comply with the NSW Road Rules that apply to pedestrians. For this reason, to ensure motorised wheelchairs can mix safely with other pedestrians, they must meet the requirements stated below. For more details please refer to the NSW Road Rules 2008 at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.
Requirements of a motorised wheelchair in NSW
A motorised wheelchair in NSW must:
- Not have the capacity to travel faster than 10 kilometres per hour
- Not have an unladen mass greater than 110 kilograms.
As a user, you must:
- Travel 10 kilometres per hour or less at all times
- Have a reasonable need to use a wheelchair due to physical disability or limited mobility
- Obey all of the road rules, including signs, for pedestrians
- Not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver
- Not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or pedestrian
- Not be affected by alcohol or drugs when travelling on a road or road-related area such as a footpath.
To use a motorised wheelchair safely, you need to be able to:
- Operate controls and manoeuvre the wheelchair
- Keep your balance and adjust your body position when travelling across uneven ground
- Spot obstacles and avoid collisions
- Judge speeds and distances
- Make good judgements to protect your safety and others.
It is important to note that alcohol mixed with prescription/over the counter or other drugs may further affect your ability to operate your motorised wheelchair safely.
If you are concerned about your ability to use a motorised wheelchair, your doctor or health care professional may be able to arrange an assessment by an accredited occupational therapist.
What can you do to travel safely?
- Plan a route that allows access to a footpath for the entire journey
- Know where there are kerb ramps or driveways you can use for safe crossings
- Take extra care when leaving the kerb to cross the road
- Wait until the traffic has stopped before travelling onto a pedestrian crossing
- Be prepared to stop for pedestrians at all times
- Look out for vehicles that are entering and leaving driveways
- Avoid highways, roundabouts, major roads and areas used by high volumes of traffic or heavy vehicles
- If there is no footpath and you must be on the road, travel along quieter streets, keep to the side, and face oncoming traffic wherever possible.
- Attach a safety flag to your chair so it is high enough above your head to be visible to others
- If possible, attach rear view mirrors on your chair for checking behind you
- If you must travel at night, use lights and reflectors to aid visibility
- If possible, check out a new route beforehand to make sure it is suitable for a motorised wheelchair
- If more assistance is required, contact your local council's Access Committee, which may be able to provide information to help plan a safe route.
Where can a motorised wheelchair be used?
Can a motorised wheelchair user travel on a footpath or on a nature strip?
Provided that the safety rules stated above are met, a motorised wheelchair may be used on a footpath and on a nature strip.
What is a shared path and can a motorised wheelchair user travel on a shared path?
A shared path is an area open to the public to be used by both riders of bicycles and pedestrians. Provided that the safety rules stated above are met, a motorised wheelchair may be used on a shared path.
What is the difference between a bicycle path and a bicycle lane and can a motorised wheelchair travel on these?
A bicycle path is an area that looks like a footpath designated for the use of bicycles. A bicycle lane is an area that is a part of a road but is designated for the use of bicycles.
The Government does not encourage motorised wheelchair users to travel on either a bicycle path or a bicycle lane.
However, a motorised wheelchair may cross a bicycle path or lane, use a bicycle path if there are no signs that prohibit use, and use a bicycle lane up to a distance of 50 metres in order to avoid obstruction.
Which organisations can be contacted for assistance?
- Independent Living Centre NSW Phone: 1300 885 886
- Aged and Disability Services at your local council
- Occupational Therapy Department at your local hospital
- Aged care assessment team at your local health centre