Scooter

Photo courtesy of www.rica.org.uk

Did you know that to ride around on a mobility scooter you don’t need to pass a test of any sort and that even people who are registered blind are legally entitled to use them? As someone who has used a scooter for fifteen years I find that terrifying.

It is important that users know how to control the scooter, how fast it will go, what it can be used for and more importantly how to handle it safely.

There are Class 2 and Class 3 scooters

There are two types of scooters (many different makes) but basically you have a Class 2 and Class 3. A Class 2 scooter can be used in the home, on the pavements and to cross roads. It has a maximum speed of 4mph and is small and lightweight and many can be dismantled to fit into the boot of a car.

Class 3 can be used on the pavement at 4mph and on the road at 8 mph. They are more robust than Class 2 and are for outdoor use only. They have more controls that than the Class 2 like indicators, headlights, a horn and hazard lights. They should also have a rear view mirror, reflectors and have to display a tax disc but you don’t need to pay for the tax on the scooter.

They both sound pretty harmless so why do I think users should pass a test? Because like any vehicle, in the wrong hands, they are dangerous. A Class 2 can easily knock someone over and hurt them. If the rider doesn’t understand the controls they put themselves and others at risk.

scooter

Class 3 Scooter, photo courtesy of www.rica.org.uk

A Class 3 scooter which is bigger and heavier can do untold damage to both people and vehicles. In a sheltered housing scheme not far from where I live a lady drove her Class 3 scooter, set her speed too high and drove through a plate glass window. The Housing Association decided to put stickers on the glass so people would know it was there and she went and did exactly the same thing.

Class 3 scooters are VERY powerful!

I’ve seen an elderly woman on a Class 3 shoot backwards across a car park, yelling ‘I can’t stop this thing, help!’ All she needed to do was take her finger off the button, but in the moments of panic she obviously didn’t think about that. Fortunately she was unharmed but the story could have been so different.

And then we hear stories of people taking mobility scooters on the motorways or on major A roads, yes using those roads may be the most direct way of getting to your destination, but mobility scooters aren’t designed for use on such roads and it’s illegal to travel on them.

Scooter Safe is a project well worth looking at

South Yorkshire Police had developed a project known as Scooter Safe which teaches people their lawful responsibilities and obligations as well as teaching them how to use their machines safely and how to interact with both pedestrians and traffic. I think it’s imperative that everyone who buys a mobility scooter should have this kind of training before they go out on it. The only instruction I had was "this makes it go forward, that makes it go backwards and that’s the horn." I think you’ll agree my instruction was totally inadequate.

Litchfield cathedral

Lady Chapel, Lichfield Cathedral

And just one other thing, don’t do what I did in Lichfield Cathedral on a Class 3 scooter. I rode up to the Lady Chapel and realised I couldn’t turn the scooter round in one so decided on a three point turn. I went forwards and then started to go backwards when all of a sudden the scooter started going beep, beep, beep to warn everyone I was reversing.

Don't do what I did in Lichfield Cathedral!!

That beeping sound found every corner of that Cathedral and fell heavily on all ears of those present. Exit Lady Chapel quickly and with a very red face. Well it wasn’t my scooter I’d borrowed it from the Shopmobility but I haven’t been back to Lichfield Cathedral since.

For information on Mobility Scooters visit http://www.rica.org.uk/content/class-and-size