When is a wheelchair not a wheelchair? When authorities say it’s a tank

Jim Starr has been confined to a wheelchair since 1999, due to chronic back and joint conditions, a neurological issue, and arthritis.  The wheelchair he uses for everyday use isn’t designed for outdoor use, so he went out and got himself the Tank Chair you see there, complete with caterpillar-treads instead of wheels.  It’s built to take on anything, and Starr has used the Tank Chair to tackle sand, snow and surf without any problem.

No, Jim’s problem has to do with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which has told the 36-year-old disabled man that he can’t use his specially designed wheelchair because, according to it’s specs, it is technically a tank.

According to DVLA guidelines disabled buggies and scooters cannot exceed more than 85cm in width and 125kg in weight.

Jim’s Tank Chair is 107cm wide and weighs 220kg.

Initially when Jim had the machine checked out by police and the DVLA, both said there was no problem with the Tank Chair.  Unfortunately for Starr the DLVA has changed it’s tune, and are now saying that Jim can only use his awesome chair on private land, which Starr finds extremely disappointing.

“It is ridiculous that I should have found a chair that could help me do all that, then told I could use it, only for the authorities to turn around and say that if I used it on the roads I would be doing something illegal,” he said.

Stupid government—always ruining cool things.  Couldn’t they find it in their hardened hearts to cut Mr. Starr some slack, maybe amend the law to say that for a vehicle to be labeled a tank, it has to have a gun, like every other tank does.

Of course, that would make sense, something the government seems to lack in situations like this.

[The Mercury]


Jeff Greenwell is the writer/editor of Last Angry Fan. Jeff has been known to rock a Speedo while belting out Robert Goulet tunes from his front porch, and in his spare time he enjoys capturing and training feral goats to be his minions. Also known to dig a nice brick of cheese from time to time.
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