Public calls for tighter controls on mobility scooter purchases
30 Jul 2018
For many, a mobility scooter represents the chance to get out and about, without having to worry about fatigue or personal fitness causing the journey to take a long time. Mobility scooters can improve the lives and emotional states of their users but the rise in accidents and fatalities in the last few years are quickly changing public opinion on them.
As the law currently stands, no operational test or physical and mental fitness test is required for anyone wishing to buy one. This means that people can buy mobility scooters, even if they are not necessarily physically or mentally capable of operating them.
Data from the Department for Transport states that the fatalities have gone from one in 2013 to 14 in 2016. Some relatives from the families of those killed are calling for tougher regulations, to ensure that what happened to them does not happen to anyone else.
After Julie Clare’s stepfather died, partially due to a crash in which he sustained brain damage, she spoke to the Express, wanting tighter controls on purchases of mobility scooters. Her stepfather, Mr. Pealing, bought a scooter in 2014 after he lost his driving licence. She tried to stop him from getting one, not believing that it was suitable for the Alzheimer’s sufferer.
The inquest following the accident heard that Mr. Pealing went across a busy city road ‘without looking, slowing or stopping’, resulting in the accident. He also refused to get mobility scooter insurance, which could have aided with repairs and legal costs. To give Ms. Clare greater reason for concern, when she received her daily living allowance, as she is registered blind, she received brochures telling her she could get a mobility scooter. The coroner involved in the inquest has said she will write to the transport secretary for a change in legislation, after there were three local deaths related to mobility scooters in the last 18 months.
This feeling was a similar case for Darrel Parker, whose mother was killed after a collision when she was on her mobility scooter. Mr. Parker would like to see something done to stop other families going through the same experience, including ‘some sort of test which measures whether people have the ability to ride them’.
It is not only families affected by fatalities who want the law to be changed. Market stall holders and local businesses in Barnsley would like the law to be updated, as they feel that the users of the mobility scooters rented in the area are not using them in a sensible manner and are causing accidents. One pedestrian who was hit by a mobility scooter called them ‘potentially lethal weapons’.
To help fix these issues, a mobility equipment dealer in Hemel Hempstead offered a training day to help combat the fatalities and accidents that had been happening in their area. ZTW Mobility set up two test tracks to educate and train the beginner and experienced mobility scooter users that arrived to participate in the event.
Stricter regulations would help to make users safer, as people would not gain access to one unless they were fully capable of operating it. This in turn would make pavements safer for pedestrians and roads safer for vehicles. How effectively this could or would be policed is unknown, as is what would happen to current owners of mobility scooters.
How do you feel about this? Would you be willing to undertake tests to prove that you are able to safely operate a mobility scooter? Would you want your loved ones to do this? Do you think that the Government should enforce stricter laws to protect the public – and the mobility scooter users themselves – from harm? Let us know your thoughts.