PDCN supporters will be aware that we have been involved with the ongoing national discussion around motorised mobility devices (MMDs) such as scooters and wheelchairs, and have made submissions to both the National Transport Commission and to the Senate Inquiry into the safe use and regulation of these devices. In addition, Austroads, as part of its ongoing aim to improve the safety of MMD users, approached Standards Australia to draft performance and construction standards for MMDs. Following a consultation process, these technical specifications were published in June 2018.
As the technical specifications are voluntary, Austroads held a series of workshops earlier this year to discuss options for adopting them with stakeholders. Austroads then released a discussion paper outlining four options, and invited feedback from all interested parties.
As the peak body representing people with disability in NSW, we believe it is vital that any regulation must have no restrictive effect on the availability, pricing or responsible use of these devices. This is a summary of PDCN’s feedback on these ideas, and you can read the full PDCN submission HERE.
PDCN supports the adoption of the technical specifications and agrees the most appropriate option is an industry driven approach, rather than increasing legal regulation which would place an unfair burden on users. The idea of a simple labelling system for devices, combined with good choice, information and education is the most positive and empowering approach for users. We also put forward that users of older devices should be allowed to continue doing so, avoiding any disadvantage caused by being forced to update expensive equipment.
The Senate Inquiry had also recommended that Austroads should consider options for licensing, registration and third-party insurance of MMDs, and this was addressed in the discussion paper. PDCN strongly supports the position taken by Austroads that no requirement to obtain registration or licensing for MMDs should be imposed. Other pedestrians and footpath users do not require a licence, and for some people an MMD is their only mode of transport. Any licensing or registration requirement would be a violation of their human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
PDCN also support the plan to increase the unladen weight limit for mobility scooters to 170kg, and to set no weight restrictions for motorised wheelchairs. The current limits are outdated and inconsistent, and don’t reflect the variety of MMDs available or the increase in their use.
Everyone has the right to mobility, and we are pleased that the proposed changes are reasonable and provide an opportunity to standardise and improve the situation for MMD users across the country. PDCN are deeply committed to this issue, and we’ll keep you posted on any further developments.