While the humble mobility scooter can be a life-enhancing tool for a whole host of older and disabled individuals, it is not without its dangers.
On the island of Jersey, 65 pedestrians and cyclists were injured in an accident that did not involve a motor vehicle over the last five years, some of which are attributable to mobility scooters. What’s more, according to UK-wide figures from the Department for Transport, 14 people were killed in mobility scooter accidents in 2016 and the problem only seems to be getting worse. This recent article reported.
A recent rise in the number of Jersey islanders reportedly being struck by mobility scooters has prompted a new campaign to raise awareness of the issue, as well as educate users of the vehicles on driving safely.
The ‘Shared Spaces Safety Programme’ has enlisted a working group to come up with a strategy to combat the rising number of mobility scooter accidents and issues. So far, a DVD has been launched to teach mobility scooter users about getting around safely, as well as top tips for looking after fellow pedestrians.
While it is important to recognise that users of mobility scooters tend to be vulnerable individuals, it is also vital to recognise that seemingly able-bodied pedestrians can be vulnerable too. A number of those that have been struck in recent years are blind or deaf pedestrians unable to see or hear scooters approaching.
Indeed, this is a familiar story for many blind people. A survey conducted a few years ago found that one in four blind pedestrians reported having been hit by a bike mounting the pavement, rendering many afraid to leave the house, as this article in the Standard references. Mobility scooters, while not quite as prevalent, pose a similar threat.
Anecdotal reports often cite confusion around who has right of way on the roads. It can be easy to assume that mobility scooter users should take precedence, and, to a degree, there is an onus on able-bodied citizens to look out for those who need a little extra assistance getting around.
However, safety should be a number one priority, and everyone should treat each other with a similar degree of respect, as multi-user paths can get very dangerous. Indeed, the same goes for all road users, including wheelchair users and pedestrians on foot.