Mobility scooters are involved in four accidents on Britain’s roads every week, according to new figures from the Department of Transport.
The numbers represent an almost 100 per cent rise in crashes involving mobility scooters compared with 2012. Last year, there were 209 accidents compared with just 84 two years earlier. Nine people died in mobility scooter accidents last year. .
Across Britain, Hull registered more crashes involving the vehicles than any other town. The city had eight crashes in 2014 and 14 since 2011. .
The latest recorded incident of a serious crash involving a mobility scooter happened in Saltburn, North Yorkshire, earlier this month. A 73-year-old man suffered serious head injuries after his scooter collided with a car at a busy road junction. .
Meanwhile, a woman from Somercotes in Derbyshire is still recovering after her legs were crushed when a mobility scooter ran over her at speed. Jen Bickerton, 52, said that the scooter user rode into her, pushing her along for almost two metres and pinning her against a mobile catering van. She says that her legs were crushed in the process and she has been left with severe bruising. .
In response to the growing number of accidents involving mobility scooters and increasing concern that new users are not receiving any guidance on road safety, Road Safety GB – a body representing local government – has published ‘A Highway Code for Mobility Scooter Users’.
While Rules 36 to 46 of the official Highway Code refers specifically to mobility scooters and other electrically powered vehicles, the Road Safety GB publication concentrates solely on the vehicles. In its introduction, the guide says: “This guide is to protect the safety of people who use electric mobility scooters and the safety of other road users and pedestrians. If you ride a scooter, you must follow this highway code whether you ride on the pavement, footpath or on the road. .
“You are responsible for your own and other people’s safety.” .
Among its recommendations are: .
• New users should get professional advice about which scooter is most suitable for their needs.
• Ensuring that they know what all the controls do before they take it out on a public road or pavement.
• Making sure that the scooter is regularly maintained.
• Keeping the battery fully charged and knowing how far it will go on a single charge.
• Planning each journey properly, bearing in mind that the shortest and most direct route may not be the best one to take because of steep hills, high kerbs or other obstructions.
• Taking out insurance even though this is not a legal obligation.
• Not to use a scooter if you have been drinking alcohol.
• Wearing high-visibility clothing and using the lights on the scooter.
• Not attempting to carry or lead a dog.
• Not overloading the scooter.
• Taking care at kerbs, on corners, where visibility is poor.
• Slowing down sooner because many scooters have a delay on braking.
• Giving pedestrians right of way
A number of Britain’s police forces are also offering driver safety courses for mobility scooter users. In one – run by South Yorkshire Police – a combination of theory and hands-on sessions are given on a variety of different mobility devices including users’ own machines. In one test, the users are trained to navigate their way around a series of obstacles safely.
In Norfolk, the police force holds regular safety awareness events for mobility scooter users including theory instruction and hands-on training. All of the force’s training events are free of charge. Police forces in London, Suffolk and Kent also hold training course for mobility scooters.