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Powerchairs resorting to the roads

We've all experienced the UK's rough roads and all too often this extends to the pavements making it hard going for all wheelchairs whether electric or not.

Things got so bad for one resident in Hove E. Sussex to leave her local pavements and take to the road as here powerchair was not taking the bumps well. Tree roots seem to be the offending items that have pushed up the pavement making for a rough ride in her electric wheelchair.

Ann Agnew has asked the council (two years ago) to make some repairs but so far nothing has been done. Bumps are generally OK for wheelchairs despite uncomfortable for the user. However when tree roots disfigure the pavement and cause ridges and slopes they are potentially hazardous as the tilt can be enough to tip a powerchair if they are not handled carefully. Indeed Mrs Agnew has at times been 'thrown' into the nearby wall or railings as the roots jolt the wheelchair as she passes. A good idea for users of all powerchairs is to fit and wear a Lap seat belt for wheelchairs.

So is the road the right way to go ? There are Highway Code rules for powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters, including on pavements and on the road. The essentials of these rules are that Class 2 vehicles that includes some electric wheelchairs and scooters must travel on the pavement where it is available. Where this is not possible then the road can be used however the wheelchair must travel in the same direction as traffic and when travelling at night, lights must be used. This is known as rule 42.

Rule 43 for states that electric wheelchair users MUST follow the same rules about using lights, indicators and horns as for other road vehicles, if your vehicle is fitted with them. At night, lights MUST be used. Be aware that other road users may not see you and you should make yourself more visible - even in the daytime and also at dusk - by, for instance, wearing a reflective jacket or reflective strips on the back of the vehicle.

For more information or if you are concerned about a friend or relative who is a scooter or powerchair user, please visit the Highway code for electric wheelchairs.

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