Saturday, January 9, 2010
U.K. Considers Licensing Mobility Scooter Users
The vehicles are exempt from motor safety laws, even when used on public roads, so there’s little the cops can do if someone’s involved in an accident. It’s actually something of a problem. A 90-year-old was killed in September after being hit by someone on a mobility scooter, and a 70-year-old woman severely injured a toddler after hitting her and dragging her along the ground. In both cases, the police couldn’t press charges.
The answer, says one member of Parliament, is to train and license scooter drivers. “Although retailers do give some kind of training it is by no means mandatory,” MP Jeff Ennis told the BBC. “So what I think we need is some kind of cycle proficiency test for mobility scooters.”
Price is Right viewers and soap opera fans will be familiar with the vehicles in question. During daytime TV commercial breaks, medical supply warehouses usually advertise Rascals and Hoverounds amidst pitches for technical schools and spots where Wilford Brimley hawks “diabetus supplies.” And who can forget George Costanza riding one while pretending to have a disability?
Although the scooters rarely exceed 4 mph, some of those who rely on them say they can be hard to control.
“Driving [a] scooter was completely unlike any of the modes of transport I normally use, and the fact that they appear slow lulls the driver into a false sense of security,” a scooter user named Val wrote in response to a news story by the BBC.
While Ennis proposes training and a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for the most dangerous scooter users, others wonder if inconsiderate pedestrians and potholed sidewalks are more of a road hazard than swerving scooters.
Photo of a mobility scooter parked outside the Barge Pole pub in Thamesmeade, England: Flickr / Nicobobinus.