How Safe Are Mobility Scooters?

Love them or hate them mobility scooters are here to stay. For many they play an important part in peoples lives providing independence and freedom the users would not otherwise have. When used safely and competently everyone can travel around in a comfortable manner.

Safety is an important aspect when our loved ones are using a device that can lead to accidents. This is why a reputable company selling scooters provide a safety briefing on how to run a mobility scooter in a manner which will not only keep the new owner safe, but those who share the pathways they will travel on.

What I found fascinating was the fact that the majority of mobility scooter and car collisions happen at intersections. This of course can be reduced by the mobility scooter user making themselves visible to cars, and thoroughly checking there is time to cross the road safely, which will minimize their chance of becoming a statistic.

With this in mind, I was recently underwhelmed by the driving skill of some mobility scooter riders which caused me to take evasive action. This happened 3 times in one month, caused by the poor judgement of the scooter rider.  On one occasion the rider drove out onto a busy round-about behind a car waiting for their turn to go.  The scooter was hidden behind the car due to its height and couldn’t be seen.  Instead of waiting in the medium strip to check if the road was clear, they kept going and zoomed across to the other side….. and there I was coming off the round about driving right into their path!

If I was a driver with slower reactions I believe I would have hit them. This thought was quite distressing, and as this was the third time in the same month where I’d had to take evasive action, I popped into my local police station to find out what my obligations were as a road user; and what I found out both educated and surprised me.

A mobility scooter is not considered a vehicle and therefore they have the same rights as a pedestrian. After some discussion I had to agree.  After all a child on a push scooter is also very mobile, and as a road user I must be looking out for possible issues ahead.  However, the implication of mobility scooter riders being considered a pedestrian was quite sobering.  This means that as a road user, whether driving a car, motorbike or heavy vehicle in the case of an accident, I would be held accountable in the first instance and be charged, irrelevant of the pedestrians actions.

In short, because a mobility scooter is not classed as a vehicle, no legislation is in place to advise users of their safe use.  This had me asking the question… what actions can a mobility scooter rider take to keep themselves and others safe.  So I went online and discovered several sites.  One in particular stood out:  ‘Mobility Scooter Reviews by Glenn Coleman’.  I thought this site articulated the obligations of mobility scooter riders when sharing the road with others.  One particular section relates directly to the ‘safety rules’ highlighting various points, such as:

  • Visibility is an issue. Many scooters are not visible to drivers of cars and trucks.
  • Weaving in and out of parking stalls along the street can be very dangerous.

If you have a loved one who is currently using a mobility scooter, make sure the dealer made time to show them how to operate and keep themselves safe to ensure they can safely cruise the streets!