Did you know that the UK has the highest number of mobility scooters currently in use than any other European country?
It has been calculated that we have around 330,000 of them whizzing around our little island, and the number is actually increasing year on year.
With figures as extraordinary as these, it is no wonder that the BBC made a TV documentary about the phenomenon. You may have seen it recently? It is called ‘The Trouble With Mobility Scooters’ and you may be able to watch it on catch-up TV if you missed it.
There is no doubt that mobility scooters offer their users a chance of independence that has been denied them because of their age or medical condition, but for other road and pavement users, they can be a complete nightmare!
Unlike with other motorised vehicles on the roads, scooter users do not have to take any form of driving test, or pass a proficiency test before using one. You don’t need any form of insurance cover to use one either. Did you know that you can even be allowed to drive one if you are registered as blind? An oversight there I think – no pun intended.
The BBC TV documentary took a warm-hearted look at the problem with mobility scooters by following a group of users as they went through a driving course put on by the South Yorkshire Police force.
The scooter users were from South Yorkshire, north Wales, and Derbyshire, and the TV crew observed them as they went about their lives using their scooters, and seeing first-hand how they have become a lifeline for their owners.
However, the stories were not always so rosy, especially for those people who have had encounters with mobility scooters and have come off worse because of it. Accidents involving mobility scooters are on the rise, and it is only expected to get worse as the number of users increase.
The documentary interviewed people who had been clipped, knocked down or run over by mobility scooters while out shopping, and one lady even gave up shopping in the Trafford Centre because of the sheer number of scooters she had to dodge each time she went there.
It is hardly surprising that collisions may occur in busy shopping centres and on the streets when you have a person driving a scooter that can reach 8 -10 mph, but who may be visually impaired, or who has physical reactions that have been drastically reduced through age.
One of the featured scooter drivers was put through the police training course by his son, because he didn’t think it was a very good idea that his 80-year-old dad should be driving one with tunnel vision!
Just because you don’t need insurance to drive a mobility scooter does not mean that you cannot get some. There are insurance companies that specialise in insurance for scooters, and the TV crew also got a behind-the-scenes look at one company as they fielded some quite distressing telephone calls from claimants.
You may smirk at the thought of some scooter-related accidents – bins being knocked over, shop signs being ran over etc. but there is an increasing call for insurance companies who have to deal with the aftermath of the chaos caused by scooter accidents.
While the TV show seemed to delight in retelling the amusing stories, such as the lady who drove her mobility scooter into the baptismal bath at her church, simply because she wanted to meet the handsome new priest, there is a serious side to these accidents that you cannot ignore.
There were also sad and touching moments within the programme that really helped to bring home the message of how important these scooters can be to the people who use them.
Despite the image of an elderly scooter driver springing to mind whenever you think of them, people of all ages with serious medical conditions use them too. Such as the 34-year-old mother who has to use one because she suffers from MS. It was heart-breaking to see her watch an elderly woman walking around completely unaided, while she herself was confined to the limits of her mobility scooter, probably for the rest of her life.
Overall, the programme helped to make people aware of just how important mobility scooters are to their users, and generally how they are a good thing for society. What is your view on the programme?.