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Scooting towards better stats

Wairarapa mobility scooter users brush up on their road safety skills. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Lisa Urbani

Mobility scooter accidents are on the rise.

From 2000 to 2018 there has been an increase from 12 to 43 wheeled pedestrians killed and injured, statistics from Ministry of Transport show.

In 2000 there were eight minor and two serious injuries, and two deaths.

By 2018 there were 32 minor and nine serious injuries, and two deaths.

In light of this information, there is a need for education around mobility scooter safety.

In an effort to reduce the number of incidents, the Wairarapa Road Safety Council and Masterton business, Mobility Wairarapa, combined forces to host safety sessions.

Twenty-nine mobility scooter drivers have burned some rubber on the tarmac at Wairarapa Village, a Masterton retirement complex, and brushed up on their driving skills during the training day.

The aim of the session was to educate scooter drivers on the legalities of being a mobility scooter user.

This included information about safe speeds and courtesy to other footpath users, the use of flags and bright clothing for visibility, planning their route to avoid peak hour traffic and avoiding busy intersections, and the safe use and maintenance of their scooters.

WRSC manager Bruce Pauling said they took part in a challenging skills course, that replicated situations they faced every day, such as manoeuvring in confined areas like shops and narrow pathways, and negotiating uneven terrain and curbs.

“This group of road users are very vulnerable, as their mobility devices offer little in protection in case of a crash or fall, and the users are usually older people who are often frail and either sustain life threatening injuries or spend a lot longer to recover, when situations go wrong.”

Bruce said ACC claims from these types of crashes were growing as more people choose mobility scooters because of physical limitations, not being able to drive a car for whatever reason, or simply choosing this mode of transport as it was cheaper and easier to own and maintain than a car.

Mobility Wairarapa owner Steve Taylor said it was a fun day for all.

“Public transport can be expensive, and without help, their ability to do things is very limited.

“A scooter provides them with independence and supports well-being as they regain their independence.”

Amelia Kilioni, daughter of scooter-owner David Kilioni, said his scooter had been “life-changing”.

“He had very limited independence due to his health issues that stopped him from being able to do things and made him reliant on others.

“Since having his scooter he has gained his independence and enjoys his freedom, he is much happier and is enjoying his life.”

Having won the Allied Medical, ‘Dealer of the Year’ for the biggest regional growth NZ-wide, from January to December 2019, Taylor said he had sold 10 mobility scooters in one week, at the beginning of this year.

He said that any interested scooter drivers were welcome to take his scooters for a test drive and he would explain the safe use and maintenance of the devices, including information about regular checks on tyres and batteries, and accessories.

Free flags and copies of Ready to Ride booklets would also be available.

It is hoped that further training days will be organised throughout Wairarapa in future.

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