Demands for compulsory training for people intending to use mobility scooters are growing after figures showed that up to three people are being injured every week in accidents involving them.
MPs are leading the calls for training after there were 164 accidents involving mobility scooters in 2013. Five users of the scooters were killed with 17 suffering serious injuries and 102 suffering minor injuries. The Department for Transport said that a further nine people were seriously injured after being hit by a mobility scooter with 102 receiving minor injuries. There are now believed to be more than 300,000 mobility scooters in use in the UK. In 2012, one person was killed in an accident involving a mobility scooter.
Mobility scooters are available in two classes and have a maximum speed of 8mph. It is not mandatory to hold insurance for either class although the DoT recommends insurance for both Class 2 and the heavier Class 3 Scooters which are allowed to travel at up to 8mph on public roads. Neither class attracts vehicle excise duty. .
After the figures on accidents were revealed, industry observers said that the actual number is likely to be much higher because fewer than half of Britain’s police forces collect data on accidents involving mobility scooters. This may be because the scooters are classed as medical equipment and are not covered by the Road Traffic Act meaning that police are limited when it comes to prosecuting a user for dangerous or reckless driving. .
On MP – Alison Seabeck, the member for Plymouth Moor View – said that the Government needed to start taking the safety of both mobility scooter drivers and other road users more seriously. She has written to the Minister for Transport, Robert Goodwill, to express her concern at the danger posed by the growing number of unregistered and uninsured mobility scooters.
According to Ms Seabeck, the UK’s rapidly ageing demographic means that there is likely to be a continued rapid growth in the popularity of mobility scooters and more serious regulations covering their use need to be put in place. .
Ms Seabeck has already spoken out about mobility scooters claiming that some able-bodied young people have started to use them because of the high cost of running and insuring a car. She told the House of Commons in 2012 that she had seen one young man ‘cruising along the seafront at a Devon resort' with his golf clubs on the back. .
She says that she believes that the number of unreported accidents involving scooters is on the increase. She said: “With more and more mobility vehicles on the roads, the lack of knowledge amongst some users regarding safety and visibility, and in some cases poor roadworthiness, are all potential causes of accidents leading to injury and death. If the growth in numbers continues at the current rate then the Government must take action. The public seem to agree.
“We need to know who is using these vehicles and training on purchase, whether privately or from a shop, should become a mandatory requirement.” .
In recent weeks, there have been two fatalities involving mobility scooters. The driver of a mobility scooter was killed in an accident involving a car in Bradford and a 96-year-old was killed after a collision with a car at a junction in Taunton, Somerset. .
Despite there being no legal requirement for a mobility scooter user to hold insurance, a ruling by the European Court of Justice has proposed that in the future this will be mandatory for all self-propelled vehicles. The change - which would include mobility scooters and ride-on lawnmowers - would apply even if the vehicle concerned never left private land to go onto the public highway. The European Court of Justice ruled that an accident involving a Slovenian man who was hurt by a reversing tractor trailer should have been covered by vehicle insurance. .
Meanwhile the Disability Information Bureau has released a Highway Code for mobility scooter users following the rise in the number of accidents. .
In the introduction, the guide states: “If you ride a scooter, you must follow this highway code whether you ride on the pavement, footpath or road. You are responsible for your own and other people’s safety.”
By Help Mobility Team