n Secure machine and ignition when you get off
THE number of accidents involving mobility scooters is on the increase prompting the launch of a new proficiency course. Becky Inman speaks to those taking part in the first safety day of its type in the country.
WHEN Helen Wainwright was left clinging to a lamppost as she struggled on the short walk back from church, she knew it was time to ask for help.
The 76-year-old from Intake would regularly rely on taxis to get around, but became increasingly frustrated with having to wait for a cab to take her a few hundred yards.
“I can walk as far as the nearest shops but any further than that is out of the question,” Mrs Wainwright said.
“Once I went to church and was told I would have to wait 45 minutes for a taxi so decided to walk it with two friends.
“About three-quarters of the way I ended up holding on to a lamp post just to keep myself up.”
So like thousands of folk across the borough she thought a mobility scooter would be a good way of regaining her independence.
But while many just hop on and drive off without any formal training Mrs Wainwright decided to attend the ScooterSafe course to gain confidence and use her scooter for longer journeys.
“I took smaller steps to start off with but am going further now,” she added.
“The other day I managed to use the mobility bus for the first time so hit the town.
“It takes me about 15 minutes to get ready to go out now on my scooter and I can go much further.”
Since 2007 there have been 28 recorded accidents involving mobility scooters in South Yorkshire, 17 of which ended in death or serious injures to the scooter driver.
Just last week the Free Press revealed how three-year-old Chenai-Marie Mann from Scawthorpe was knocked down by a pensioner on a mobility scooter who appeared to lose control of the vehicle.
The accident prompted mum Chelsea, 23, to demand changes in the law.
And in 2009 Madison McNair, then two, was injured in a similar incident in Baxter Gate. The following October an 88-year-old man was killed when his scooter collided with a car on a 60mph stretch of Broomhouse Lane in Balby.
But with scooters not being classed as motor vehicles so not falling under traffic laws, South Yorkshire Police and road safety bosses launched ScooterSafe.
The two-hour proficiency course at the Lifewise Centre near Maltby sees participants given helpful hints on how to use their scooters to stay safe on the roads.
Riders are also put in real life scenarios such as how to navigate their way around shops, banks, and houses.
Harworth resident Nikki Webber, 31, was left with mobility problems after she was knocked down as a child in Bawtry. She has since been awarded the MBE for her work in promoting road safety.
She said: “I use my scooter all the time - I use it to go to the shops and decided to come to the course just to see how to use my scooter generally.”
PC Mick Hedges who led the first course, added: “The aim of the project is to help South Yorkshire residents with mobility issues to maintain their independence whilst enhancing their own safety and confidence on our roads and other public areas.”
To take part in the free course contact South Yorkshire Police on 01709 832455 or email email@example.com
Choose the right scooter for your needs and abilities
On every journey keep your feet on the scooter until you stop, then put your feet on the ground
On every journey be visible - wear bright coloured or light clothes, especially if you are going out at night
Take time to plan your journey
Ensure you know your scooter controls
Reverse only after checking behind
Steering and seat adjustment - always make sure you are comfortable and positioned safely
Always show consideration for others
Follow the Highway Code
Ensure your battery is fully charged before setting off