In the period 2000 to 2012, Sixty two fatalities occurred in Australia, involving the use of mobility scooters. Hundreds of people have been injured after losing control or falling from these devices.
The majority of these deaths and injuries were people in the sixty to ninety years age bracket.
How safe are mobility scooters ?
Statistics show us that they greatest percentage of injuries are caused by people falling from these machines.
To date there is no Australian Standard regarding design and safety of mobility scooters.
Some mobility scooters are solid beasts weighing up to 150kg, and can reach speeds up to 30km/h.
They can require skill and strength to handle safely. Not meant to be handled by a frail 87 year old lady. The scooter needs to be matched to the person.
With Australia’s aging population, and our relative affluence, these appear a great way for our seniors to maintain independence. There are many different types of these devices on the market, and training in the use of them is reliant on the vendor you purchase from. Some purchasers have reported no training whatsoever.
There is unfortunately, a nationwide lack of regulation, governing mobility scooters, with Queensland being the only State requiring registration of the devices. Providing they are not capable of more than 10km/h. registration is free to users, and includes Compulsory Third Party insurance.
In Queensland a doctors certificate is required to apply for registration. In every Australian State and Territory, under the Australian Road Rules any one riding a mobility scooter is classified as a pedestrian, and no driving licence is required, however users of these devices commit an offence if they:
- use the scooter while having a blood alcohol content of 0.05 % or higher.
- travel faster than 10km/h.
- obstruct the path of any other driver or pedestrian.
Changes are afoot, to develop a compulsory design standard for the safety and performance of mobility scooters sold in Australia: e.g. lights and reflectors, speed limiters, rear view mirrors, safety belts, helmets, horn, handbrakes.
There may be a review of penalties for wheeled devices, with a view to matching monetary fines to the seriousness of the offence.
There have been instances where other pedestrians have been injured with careless use of mobility scooters, and some nursing homes have curtailed use of devices within the buildings.