09 August 2008

Highway code issued for mobility scooters

Mobility scooters, capable of hitting speeds up 8mph, are being kept in check by a new highway code, warning users of the dangers of speeding and drink driving.

It is hoped the booklet will help enforce the strict 4mph rule (8mph on the road) and convey the dangers the elderly and disabled face on the vehicles.

Herefordshire Council has spent hundreds of pounds drawing up the booklet, which features cartoon characters in various scenarios, such as one man who has got his scarf caught under his wheel, and a granny caught up in traffic.

The guidelines helpfully advise users: "Do not use your scooter if you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs".

It warns users: "Make sure that you know what all the switches and levers on your scooter do, and that you can control it properly before you go out on it."

It points out the potential pitfalls scooter users face, telling them to plan their journey accordingly and make sure they have enough battery power as "steep hills, high kerbs or other obstructions may make it impossible to tackle certain routes".

The new code also forbid extra passengers from hitching a ride - including pets which may prove a distraction.

Road Safety Officer Ann Mann said 500 of the booklets had been made up with a view for more to be produced and possibly rolled out to other areas should they prove successful.

She said: "Any vehicle, whether it is a car, HGV, bicycle, mobility scooter or motorcycle, if not used safely and with consideration could cause considerable damage to the user or other people.

"We've done this as a little reminder and we've put it into a nice and easy format so that people can understand the responsibilities mobility scooter users have."

Mobility scooter user, Irene Bickington, from Coventry, who has cerebral palsy, said: "It seems like a waste of money to me.

"I can see their intentions and perhaps some of it does make sense, but I can't see many scooter users being big drink and drugs users.

"Saying 'make sure you know what everything does on your scooter' is a little bit patronising. What do they take us for?

"Some of the advice does make sense, I'll give them that, but a lot of it is just barmy."

Earlier this week, an 81-year-old man was stopped by the police for driving his 8mph mobility scooter on a high-speed dual carriageway.

When police attempted to intervene, the man, who was not named, complained he found other roads "too slow".

The driver set off from his home on Hayling Island near Havant in the morning, heading for an electronics shop seven miles away in Farlington on the outskirts of Portsmouth, before being picked up by the police and given a lift home in a van.
He was not breaking the law however, as legally mobility scooters can be driven on dual carriageways, although police strongly advise against it.

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