A team of researchers from Nottingham is attaching high definition cameras to mobility scooters in a bid to prevent more people being injured in collisions.
The project, being led by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University, will provide mobility scooter users with guidance on the type of dangers they may encounter and how to identify them.
Mobility scooter users are being invited to drive along a planned route as part of the project, with cameras recording the view from the user’s perspective and eye-tracking technology used to show what the mobility scooter driver is looking at.
There are currently between 300,000 and 350,000 people using mobility scooters in the UK. This is anticipated to increase by up to 10%. In 2014 there were more than 200 mobility scooter-related collisions in England and Wales, nine of which were fatal.
Dr Duncan Guest, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent university’s school of social sciences, explained: “There are a number of health and well-being benefits associated with using mobility scooters, such as increased independence and improving self-esteem. However, these benefits might not be realised if someone uses a scooter for the first time and gets into a difficult situation. Our aim is to improve the safety of new mobility scooter users and reduce potential collisions.”
The research will be used to create a training video for Shopmobility centres and other charities.
A pensioner from Withywood in Bristol who was left stranded at home after callous thieves stole and burnt his mobility scooter has had some good news.
Arthur Panes, 88, was devastated when criminals stole his £2,000 scooter from outside his sheltered accommodation in Bearbridge Road. Mr Panes was forced to store the mobility scooter outside after the fire service told Brunelcare, who run the accomodation, it was a fire hazard.
Now a mobility scooter has been donated to Arthur Panes and Brunelcare are providing a lockable storage space and access ramp to keep it safe. A statement from the company indicated Brunelcare has been supporting Arthur Panes and has been in regular contact with his family since his mobility scooter theft.
The statement read: “We are pleased to update you that a donated mobility scooter has been obtained by Arthur’s family and is now being stored in the lockable facility at Brunelcare’s site. We are spending over £5,000 on a new ramp to the lockable store, so that Arthur will be able to access his scooter easily. We are also supporting the family with sourcing mobility scooter insurance. As soon as all this has been done, we hope Arthur will be able to enjoy getting out and about again on his new mobility scooter.”
Arthur Panes and neighbour Brian James both had their mobility scooters stolen and destroyed in October. A mobility scooter was donated to Mr Panes by a family friend and his is now able to travel to the shop independently. He said: “It’s a lovely mobility scooter. I’m feeling a bit better. I’ve broken down a couple of times. Thank you. I’m so grateful to everyone.”
Network Rail’s level crossing management process did not take full account of use by mobility scooters at Bentley, a report into a fatal accident at the station has said.
A Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the death of an 83-year-old man, which happened at the level crossing near Farnham in October 2016, concluded he probably did not hear the train’s warning horn and may not have even seen the approaching train due to sun glare before it hit him. At 4.20pm on Wednesday October 5 2016, a mobility scooter was struck by a train and the scooter user was killed.
As a result of the incident, the RAIB has recommended Network Rail modifies its level crossing management processes so that it considers mobility scooter use at all crossings which rely on users looking and listening for trains.
The summary of the report read: “Users of Alice Holt footpath crossing are required to look and listen for approaching trains before deciding whether it is safe to cross the line. It is uncertain why the user decided to cross when it was unsafe to do so, as CCTV images suggest that he had previously crossed in a safe manner.”
The report continued: “It is probable that the user did not see the train or misjudged when it would arrive at the crossing, perhaps due to sun glare, when deciding to cross. The mobility scooter user’s opportunity to see the approaching train was limited by the design of Alice Holt crossing, in particular the fencing. The mobility scooter user did not react to the train’s horn, possibly because he did not hear it.”
The report concluded: “The RAIB has found that Network Rail’s guidance for level crossing managers did not include any advice concerning use by mobility scooter users and the management of the crossing had not allowed for vulnerable users such as these.”
Residents in sheltered accommodation in Scunthorpe who faced losing their mobility scooters if they travelled at a speed of eight miles per hour have been given a reprieve after claiming they they would be left house-bound.
Ongo Homes wanted to ban class three mobility scooters being kept on the premises at Lincoln Court in the town for safety reasons. But following a letter of protest from the residents and intervention by Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin, the Scunthorpe-based housing association has reversed it’s decision.
Carol Simmons, 68, who has lived at Lincoln Court for six years, said in January this year she had paid £2,000 on hire-purchase for a mobility scooter after being given permission by her landlords. Mrs Simmons explained: “Since then we have been told keeping the mobility scooters on site is a fire risk. We have all got our own insurance cover. We feel a ban would take away our independence and leave us house bound, relying on others to do our errands. We feel we have been discriminated against.”
Fellow resident Broderick Woodall, 59, added: “I moved into Lincoln Court in March on the understanding I could bring my scooter with me.” Mr Woodall said as he weighed more than 24-stone he had to use a class three mobility scooter to get around.
Mr Dakin. having met the residents, said: It was very clear that these proposals would have a significantly detrimental impact on the mobility and independence of residents. I have already made contact with Ongo and as a result of that they have committed to have an internal review to address these concerns going forward. I look forward to the outcome of those debates and certainly hope that a suitable outcome can be achieved.”
Helen Wright, Ongo Homes support service manager, commented: “We are having ongoing discussions with the tenants, staff, our local MP and fire safety reps to work on a way to resolve the issue around mobility scooter storage. At the moment we are looking into different options for the various sized mobility scooters to ensure we are meeting the needs of our tenants whilst keeping the safety in the scheme a priority.”
She continued: “All of our retirement living schemes have external mobility scooter stores and we’re looking at the option of mobility scooters (including class three) being allowed to be stored in the store, providing there is space. We are also exploring the idea of having a maximum size of mobility scooter to be allowed in the stores. We will be seeking external advice on a suitable maximum size to set.”
Helen added: “We can accommodate scooters without compromising the safety of our tenants, we always will. We will continue to consult and discuss with our tenants around this issue to resolve the problem.”
Modern conveniences such as online shopping and mobility scooters can ease the physical strain on those who are getting on in years. And you can hardly blame pensioners for wanting to take things easy in their retirement after a lifetime of work.
But is a lack of exercise actually causing problems for older people, and making it more likely that they could suffer serious injury? The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says millions of pensioners are failing to maintain their strength, which is putting them at greater risk of falls. According to a survey carried out by the CSP, 25% of over-65s don’t do any strength exercises at all – this can include yoga, as well as activities not usually seen as ‘exercise’, such as digging in the garden or carrying shopping bags.
The CSP says that the increasing popularity of online shopping means fewer pensioners are now carrying home groceries themselves.Muscle waste in pensioners can have serious consequences – the vast majority of hip fractures among older people come from falls, costing the NHS around £1 billion a year. Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, believes strength exercises can help pensioners live healthier and longer lives.
Professor Middleton explained: “We must move past the idea that becoming weaker and frailer is inevitable as we get older. Research shows getting stronger brings a whole host of health benefits so it is incredibly important that people don’t overlook strengthening when being active. This doesn’t mean immediately hitting the gym to lift weights – to start, it can be digging in the garden or simple bodyweight exercises like standing up out of a chair 10 times. There are easy ways to do it but the essential thing is to get started and these poll results show a lot of work needs to be done to get that message out.”
Defiant OAP Robert Cockburn happily trundles along a 60mph road on his 8mph mobility scooter, leaving a trail of irate motorists in his wake.
The pensioner revealed drivers shout abuse at him because he holds them up by making daily low-speed trips to the beach for a picnic. But Robert, 70, insists he has as much right to use the road as they do — and refuses to give way or drive on the pavement.
Robert explains: “My mobility scooter is registered with the DVLA. It pays zero road tax and is covered by insurance. It’s an on-road mobility scooter. People overtake on the white lines. That’s not my problem — it’s theirs. I get cars that toot when they go past. They don’t toot anybody else.
He continues: “And I’ve had cars drawing level with me and yelling abuse, telling me I should be on the pavement. Why would the DVLA register scooters for on-road use if they wanted to limit them to the pavement? I’m no different to a cyclist on the road.”
The former bus inspector travels over two miles each day along the twisting road from his home in Port Seton, East Lothian, to Longniddry Bents, where he parks up to enjoy a picnic and read his newspaper.
The Highway Code states that mobility scooters should use footpaths wherever possible, but Robert claims it’s not practical on his bulky wheels. The police are powerless to prevent him driving on the B1348 as he is not breaking any law. Robert explained: “The police don’t stop me. One constable came and asked me questions about two years ago, but it was quite obvious he didn’t know what the law was regarding mobility scooters. I had to put him right and he apologised. I pointed out that if people are speeding on that road, it’s up to traffic police to sort that out — not me. I don’t use the pavement because if I meet a bike I can’t get out of the way. If I meet another scooter, they’re too heavy to lift up and down on the pavement.”
Frustrated motorists who have been stuck behind Robert, below, want him to stick to the path. One driver even warned he is dicing with death by continuing with his road trips. He said: “He’s got his high-viz jacket on, but I just think one day he is going to get run over. You wouldn’t even want to walk along that road, never mind drive a mobility scooter along it. There are double white lines on some stretches meaning that drivers cannot overtake him. It’s crazy, especially as there’s a path all the way along the road.”
Jason Wakeford of road safety charity Brake said: “Pavements are much safer than roads. The Highway Code states that scooters should use pavements where available.”
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Mobility scooters have been involved in hundreds of cases dealt with by the Cumbrian constabulary, including crashes, highways disturbances and thefts.
Information covering the last five years, uncovered by CN Group using Freedom of Information laws, shows there have been a total of 54 separate ‘highways disruptions’ involving mobility scooters over the period – while a further 14 were classed as ‘roads related offences’.
There were two counts of taking without consent, while police are regularly called to investigate the theft of mobility scooters from across the county. The data also reveals they have been at the centre of a range of serious accidents, with police records showing five people, including a child in Carlisle and pedestrians in Ulverston and Whitehaven, have been hit by mobility scooters. On one occasion, officers were called to a collision in Carlisle involving a mobility scooter and two other vehicles.
Police in the city attended another incident where a mobility scooter had collided with a large van while a third was recorded by officers simply as ‘car vs mobility scooter’. In Ambleside, a mobility scooter user misjudged a corner and collided with a van, while in Grange-over-Sands, a mobility scooter rider was knocked off their vehicle by a car. There were 347 incidents in total.
Now, Cumbria Police have urged both mobility scooter drivers and motorists to be aware of one another in an attempt to halt the rising number of incidents on our roads. A spokesman for the force said: “Our advice is simply for both motorists and mobility scooter users to look out for one another. We ask that mobility scooter users give way to pedestrians when riding on pavements and that they obey traffic lights and all other road signals, including stop signs, give way signs and signs for one way streets. Also, we encourage mobility scooter users to wear high-visibility clothing, particularly at night, to help keep you and other road users safe.”
There are two classifications of mobility scooter. The first are suitable for use only on pavements and in pedestrianised areas and have a top speed of four miles per hour.
Their road-going counterparts, officially recorded by the DVLA as a Class 3 invalid carriage, have speeds of up to eight miles per hour but must comply with government regulations that demand the vehicles have a rear view mirror, front and rear lights, reflectors, a horn and an efficient braking system. Anyone using a mobility scooter on the road must comply with the Highway Code.
Road safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Nick Lloyd, explained the number of accidents involving mobility scooters nationwide is increasing year on year. Mr Lloyd said: “Mobility scooters provide an important form of transport for many people who might otherwise not be able to get out and about. They help people to enjoy a much better quality of life than they would otherwise do. However, as with all forms of transport, they create some risk for both the user and for other people.The number of accidents and casualties involving mobility scooters has only been recorded (for a few years) but these figures indicate that they are increasing which is very worrying.”
Mr Lloyd added: “RoSPA believes the best ways to prevent these casualties is to improve the quality and availability of guidance and training for mobility scooter users, manufacturers and retailers. We don’t believe that extensive new regulations are needed but it would help if it was made clear that road traffic laws governing careless and dangerous driving; driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and using a mobile telephone while driving apply to mobility scooter users.”
Mobility scooter owners claim a saboteur is causing punctures by dropping roof tacks all around the seaside resort of Clacton on Sea.
OAPs and others using mobility scooters have been left dodging the half-inch metal spikes on pavements in Clacton. Penny Bunby suffered three tyre punctures in a week and said at least six other pensioners had tyres damaged.
She explained: “I was going to the dog parlour with my dog to get his hair cut. I suddenly became aware something wasn’t right and my mobility scooter was pulling to the left so I stopped. I’ve had my mobility scooter for thee years and I’ve never had a puncture before but this was the third one in a week.” The retired social worker, 68, added: “I think someone is throwing down handfuls of tacks. It’s nasty and malicious.”
Mobility scooter repairer Roger Ball said he had dealt with nine tack punctures in as many weeks. All the blow outs had been caused by the same type of tack. He commented: “It’s too much of a coincidence, like someone is planting them.” Police said they were keeping an open mind in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
Now we all know seaside resorts tend to be tacky, but this is clearly a cruel and malicious thing to do. The saboteur must be nailed!!
Almost unbelievably like a stunt straight out of “Last Of The Summer Wine”, a mobility scooter driver with a torch strapped to his head has been caught on camera driving round a roundabout, in the dark, while chatting away on his mobile phone.
The man is filmed changing lanes on his mobility scooter on the roundabout and, as the car passes him, it becomes apparent that the man is in fact on the phone. The video was caught by a driver who saw the man on a busy city centre roundabout at 10pm. In the absence of any lighting on the mobility scooter the man appears to be wearing a head torch to both light his way and indicate his presence to other road users on the roundabout in Pennycomequick, Plymouth.
According to the Highway Code, while mobility scooters capable of reaching speeds of 8mph can be used on the road, manual wheelchairs and class two mobility scooters with an upper speed limit of 4mph are designed to be used on pavements. Furthermore, while on the road, mobility scooters should obey the guidance and rules for other vehicles; when on the pavement mobility scooters should follow the guidance and rules for pedestrians.
Rules regarding lights, indicators and horns as for other road vehicles also apply to mobility scooters. At night, lights must be used. The Highway Code states: “Be aware that other road users may not see you and you should make yourself more visible – even in the daytime and also at dusk – by, for instance, wearing a reflective jacket or reflective strips on the back of the vehicle.”
Kieran Worthington, 28, moved his clippers and scissors outside to give Billy, whose in his 70s, a short back and sides in the reflection of the shop window.
The barber realised that poor Billy didn’t have crutches and his mobility scooter only had ‘one speed’ fast setting. It meant that the mobility scooter couldn’t be navigated inside the shop without causing mayhem and potential damage to the shop window or fittings.
Kieran then decided to showcase the pensioner’s new haircut outside Beard and Barnet Barbers in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Kieran explained: “Being on a mobility scooter speed, Billy would have driven into the wall because it only had one setting – and that was too fast. I didn’t mind cutting his hair outside because it’s just what we do really – we’d do it for everyone and anyone. It’s not even a big deal, or knew anyone had taken a photo, as tomorrow we’d have forgotten about. He said he was struggling to get inside other shops in town and we told him we’d help him out.”
Beard and Barnet, who charge £13 for a gents haircut, said it was the first time they had ever performed a haircut outside the shop front. Kieran had used the reflection of the store front window to help cut Billy’s hair and even brought out a mirror to show Billy the back of his head.
The barber shop owner Graeme Harding, 34, of Brighouse, West Yorks., added: “Billy had asked a friend of mine, it was my landlord actually, if there was anyway we could cut his hair and he came back and Kieran did it outside. The thing is, we’ve cut each other’s hair outside all the time so it’s no big deal to us, but we really wanted to help billy out. If I’m honest, we have old blokes come in on mobility scooters quite often and the guys park them up, get off and come inside. But unfortunately Billy couldn’t do that because he didn’t have any crutches.”