QUESTION: Law reform for disability mobility vehicles

During Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services whether law reform is needed to increase the mobility options for people whose disabilities prevent them from driving cars but who are otherwise fit enough to use other electric-powered mobility options.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I have been contacted by a constituent who is concerned about current legal restrictions on the use of small-wheeled electric-powered vehicles. My constituent has epilepsy, which means that he cannot get a driver's licence. He appreciates that he is allowed to use a four-wheeled disability mobility vehicle, such as what are described as disability scooters or Gophers, but he points out that it is illegal to ride other battery-powered vehicles, such as Segways, stand-up electric scooters or electric skateboards, on South Australian roads, footpaths and bicycle paths.

Just to check that what my constituent told me was accurate, I have had a look at the My Licence website. Under the question and answer section, the question, 'Can I ride a motorised wheeled recreational device on a road, footpath or bike track?' the answer provided is:

No. These devices cannot be used on roads or road related areas such as foot paths, bike/pedestrian tracks, or vehicle parking areas.

Under South Australian legislation, these devices are considered to be motor vehicles. Operating a motor vehicle requires a driver's licence, registration and compulsory third party insurance.

These devices do not meet the safety standards under the Australian Design Rules and they are not eligible for registration.

My constituent advises that he is keen to match his need for transport with environmentally friendly options, such as electric-powered small-wheeled vehicles.

My question of the minister is:

Is the minister able to look into this issue and see whether law reform is needed to increase the mobility options for people whose disabilities prevent them from driving cars but who are otherwise fit enough to use other electric-powered mobility options? I remind the minister that we as a parliament did manage to legalise and regulate electric-powered bicycles some time ago.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his questions, which I think are very good questions. I can understand the difficulty that there probably is for people with particular mobility challenges. In relation to the terminology for some of the vehicles that he referred to, as in scooters and Gophers, we used to refer to them interchangeably in a former professional position, but Gopher is the proprietary name and scooter is the generic one. But they are very good questions, and they may well be under the purview of the Minister for Transport, and I will certainly undertake to get some information on the honourable member's behalf. If he has a particular constituent he would also like to refer to us, then we can make contact with that individual. So, yes, I will certainly take those questions on notice and get a response.


Response provided on 28 November 2018

Hon Michelle Lensink MLC: The Department of Human Services has advised that:

Our Government is committed to promoting mobility and access to the community. I introduced the Disability Inclusion Act 2018 to improve opportunities for South Australians with disability to participate in the community as equal citizens.

Under the Act, State authorities, including the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will be required to consult with the community about better access and inclusion to develop Disability Access and Inclusion Plans. The Plans will be required to outline strategies that improve outcomes for people with disability, including in access to built environments and transport.

My department will support authorities to develop creative, best practice and innovative Disability Access and Inclusion Plans to improve outcomes for people with disability in our community.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government has provided the following advice:

Officers of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure have contacted the National Transport Commission regarding this matter. They are advised that the NTC forward work program for 2019 includes a re-consideration of some work undertaken by Austroads which set out potential parameters for using powered wheeled recreational devices.

Potential law reform would consider whether the devices should also be subject to restrictions on mass and speed, and restrictions on access to the road network. There would also be safety requirements such as users being of a certain age, wearing helmets and for devices to be fitted with bells and lights, for example.