Barriers to safe and legal use of innovative vehicles
MTF April 2020

Mandi Mees, National Transport Commission, presented a review of Personal Mobility Devices (PMD) and possible national approaches to the April meeting.

Mandi Mees, Executive Leader Safety, National Transport Commission (NTC), discussed the ongoing review of the Australia Road Rules (ARRS) with respect to motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters (MMDs) and personal mobility devices (PMDs).

Mandi is also Deputy Mayor of Macedon Shire and well acquainted with the local government perspective.

Mandi provided some background to the National Transport Commission, established in 2003 to lead national land transport reform across the Australian governments to improve safety, productivity, environmental outcomes and regulatory efficiency. The NTC is accountable to the Transport and Infrastructure Council, and seeks to align land transport practice across state jurisdictions, including local councils. Local government is invited to submit or otherwise engage with the NTC on current and relevant issues. NTC will develop model Australian Road Rules, it is voluntary for individual states to adopt.

The NTC intends to establish a national vehicle regulatory framework for Australia by 2021. This includes driverless buses.

The NTC review has included international experience, and Mandi showed a wide range of emerging mobility options of the MMD and PMD type. Examples were given of several North American cities also grappling with the legality and safety of a variety of devices.

Key points

PMDs growing in popularity: demand for comprehensive ecosystem of transport alternatives. Use is illegal in many jurisdictions.

Australia Road Rules are outdated and predate newer PMD technology.

Recognise motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters as separate category. As such all motorised mobility device operators are treated as pedestrians.

Jurisdictions under pressure to regulate PMDs –no national consistency.
> Research to inform best practice regulation is limited, but beginning to emerge.
> Lack of national consistency could create confusion for industry/community.
> Limited understanding of the safety risks associated with use of devices.

The National Transport Commission on PMD and MMD seeks to join the dots from leisure/recreational to disability devices to extend freedom of mobility for everyone in a safe environment.

Following the issue papers and active consultation, the NTC will report to the Transport and Infrasturcture Council which will consider MMD in June 2020 and PMD in November2020.

Chair Cr Jonathon Marsden thanked Mandi for her presentation and discussion, and it was agreed to keep in touch with the ongoing review, and the work of the National Transport Commission, and invite Mandi again at a future date.

Link to presentation slides