Motorized Wheelchair Users are Pedestrians

Motorized WheelchairTechnology is a wonderful thing. Those of us whose mobility is restricted have had their capabilities enhanced through the use of motorized wheelchairs. A number of readers have observed that the operators of these wheelchairs seem to drive them wherever they please and are concerned for safety. What rules do their operators have to follow?

This is a good question, as a motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle not run on rails, that is designed to be self propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires. A motorized wheelchair fits this definition and can be considered as a motor vehicle for the purposes of the Act.

However, this does not mean that all wheelchair users have to worry about drivers licenses and such. In section 2 of the Act it states that the Motor Vehicle Act and it's Regulations shall not apply to the driving or operation of a mechanically propelled invalid's chair which is used only for the purposes for which it is designed. Only an able bodied user would have to comply with the usual motor vehicle rules.

A person in any type of wheelchair is considered to be a pedestrian and must follow pedestrian rules, and some of these were explained in last week's column.

Many of the people making this column request have also pointed out that it is wise to use a flag to increase the height and visibility of the wheelchair and its operator. Without the flag it is difficult to see the person on the wheelchair in parking lots and behind cars parked beside sidewalks.

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