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By Debbie le Quesne

Mobility scooters for homes: What is the real price of independence?

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Mobility scooters give the elderly and disabled people independence, self-respect and dignity.

And now some care home owners are offering these machines for communal use by their residents. A great idea – perhaps.

But like all vehicles, they must be used responsibly in order to keep both the user and the public safe. The humble scooter may look innocuous enough as it makes its way along the busy high street, but there are some terrifying hidden dangers around for those who use these vehicles inappropriately.

The matter was raised by a man I know who picked up a speeding ticket and to keep points off his licence elected to attend a speed awareness course.

One of the issues raised at the TTC driver awareness group were the dangers posed by scooter users – and not the kind some of us can recall in the Quadrophenia movie.

My friend explained: “Put an orange flashing light on the back of a mobility scooter and they then become road legal.” Is this true? Well, yes.

Like all vehicles, scooters fall into a class; the ‘class 2′ category can be capable of travelling at speeds of up to 4 miles per hour, and it may only be driven on pavements or on road crossings. The ‘class 3’ go-faster type can reach a giddy 8mph and can be legally driven on the roads.

We all know our reaction slow as we get older, it’s not a criticism, it’s a fact of life. How many of us have been forced to doge the odd scooter driver and is there such a thing as scooter rage?

Perhaps it’s me, but the idea of care homes letting their residents use this kind of transport as a communal resource for outings seems a little scary, but doesn’t all independence come at a price?

I’m not advocating people going into care should lose all scooter transport privileges – in fact, I’m all for improving the mobility of residents in whatever form, but I can see possible perils ahead.

You don’t need a driving licence to a mobility scooter and far as I’m aware, there are no helpful courses available to give some crucial tips on, for instance, how to negotiate kerbs, traffic islands and bus lanes, crowded footpaths and travel in the dark. I’m certainly not suggesting a driving test, but being made aware of dangers would clearly be helpful.

Maybe, this is a new business proposition, because I can’t find anything like it on a Google search.

Mobility aids such as scooters give people the freedom to live their lives the way they want, but their use must be taken very seriously.

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Written by debbielq

February 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

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