MOTORISTS and drivers of mobility scooters need to stick to the rules of the road and keep a keen eye out for each other to avoid accidents, according to road safety experts and sellers of the scooters.
They said all accidents could easily be avoided - all it took was for people to open their eyes and take in what was going on around them.
The warning follows the tragic death of an elderly Dubbo mobility scooter driver in a collision in May.
A spokesperson from the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) said a national survey, designed to provide a better understanding of the demographics of mobility scooter users, had shown at least 62 Australians had died from mobility scooter collisions or falls since 2000.
“Hundreds more scooter users have been hospitalised each year, suffering serious head wounds or other injuries as a result of losing control of, or falling from their mobility scooter,” the spokesperson said.
“Although mobility scooter users are considered pedestrians, knowing what to expect of the traffic will make everyone safer.”
Ken Hall, owner of Orana Disability Sales and Service, said many people did not realise the law classified scooter riders as pedestrians.
Australian Road Rules Part 14 of the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Requirements for the Mobility Impaired stated a pedestrian included “a person driving a motorised wheelchair that cannot travel over 10 kilometres per hour on level ground”, according to Mr Hall.
Mr Hall said it was important for motorists to be cautious of mobility scooter riders of all ages, not just pensioners.
He said he had been selling scooters for 14 years in Dubbo and the region, estimating to have sold about 700 in that time.
Blue Badge Insurance, a company which specialises on comprehensive insurance products for Australians with disabilities and mobility difficulties, recorded there to be 120,000 mobility scooter users in Australia.
“It is imperative that these aids are not used on a road unless necessary,” he said.
Mr Hall said “people of all ages and situations” required mobility scooters for their “day-to-day movements”.
RMS requirements stated a mobility scooter user did not need to have a current NSW driving licence, Mr Hall said.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for both the scooter drivers and others on road to remember this,” Mr Hall said.
A survey conducted by Blue Badge Insurance Australia revealed 27 per cent of mobility scooter users had been involved in an accident at some point in their life. Mr Hall said accidents could easily be avoided.
“All it takes is for people to open their eyes and take in what’s going on around them,” he said
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