Could the law on mobility scooter’s about to be changed?
01st November 2017
New figures released from the Department of Transport shows that the number of fatalities from mobility scooter accidents has nearly doubled in just one year to a record high of 14. Moreover, the total number of accidents has trebled since 2012. These figures have put pressure on the government to reconsider mobility scooter legislation. David Davies, the executive director of the parliamentary advisory council for transport safety, commented in an article for The Times that traditional road safety interventions such as vehicle engineering safety cameras and speed awareness courses ‘probably won’t be effective. New approaches will be needed. The laws and highway code may need to change.’
Even before these new figures were released there was already a considerable amount of pressure stemming from the previous year’s statistics. MP’s such as Alison Seabeck have requested 'compulsory training' for mobility scooter drivers’ after the records revealed three people a week are being injured in scooter accidents. the MP for Plymouth Moor View, also claimed the Government of not taking the dangers seriously stating an ageing population will fuel the growth of scooters and requested more rigorous checks to be put in place. Today, in 2017 much of the public seem to agree with this sentiment claiming that ‘some sort of regulation is long overdue’. There are many suggestions from minsters and the public on the nature of these changes to the current legislation with the most popular suggestions being mobility scooter users required to undertake training to ensure that they can steer and control the scooter appropriately, to meet minimum eyesight standards and an increased focus on insurance. Conservative MP Kevin Foster recommended that mobility scooters should carry number plates, however, the proposal was rejected by the government.
“We urge mobility scooter users to get training to ensure that they can steer and control the vehicle properly.” - The Department for Transport
It is estimated that currently 350,000 people living in the UK regularly use a mobility scooter, although the true figure could be much higher. However, as wheelchair user Francis Ryan points out, in her article for the guardian, infrastructure and transport needs to also acknowledge the rising number of scooter users as it can currently “be a nightmare for people with mobility problems” to navigate around a built up area safely.
An example of an organisation acknowledging more needs to be done for mobility scooter users can be seen in the aftermath of the fatal accident that took place at Alice Holt footpath crossing in Hampshire on 5 October 2016. At 16:20 a mobility scooter user was struck by a train and left the user fatally injured. In the report following incident it was concluded from CCTV that the ‘the mobility scooter users opportunity to see the approaching train was limited by the design of Alice Holt crossing’. The RAIB has found that Network Rail’s guidance for level crossing managers did not include any advice concerning use by mobility scooter users and the management of the crossing had not allowed for vulnerable users. Following this incident Network Rail vowed to change its level crossing management processes so that they consider mobility scooter use at all crossings.
In Summary, a person who uses a scooter to mobilise themselves today should be extra vigilant of their surroundings, be insured and have sufficient training. It is evident that public perception is starting to view mobility scooters as more of a vehicle than a piece of medical equipment and the laws are soon likely to change to reflect this.