The news last week about the sad death of a mobility scooter rider in Fareham has prompted me to write about a problem with these machines but not one that I believe caused the recent death. In this case the man went through a glass screen and dropped 12 feet to the ground below.
Some basic information for those who do not know about these machines; they are controlled by two paddles on the handle bar, one for forward and the other for reverse.
In addition there is a rotary control for setting the maximum speed that can be attained, 4mph for footpaths and 8mph for class 3 scooters on the road and ONLY on the road.
But the main reason for this letter is to point out a basic safety failing in the scooter design. I was a class 3 scooter user before I changed to my FPC – Famous Power Chair – so I have plenty of experience.
If an emergency occurs, such as a pedestrian suddenly walking blindly in front of you, I found my basic instinct to perform a quick stop was to grab the paddle and pull it hard forward as one would do to brake when riding a bicycle.
This accelerates the scooter straight into danger!
What is needed is a change in paddle design that has an over-rideable stop as in the accelerator of an automatic car.
When over-ridden, the power is cut and brakes applied, result, hopefully, no accident.
Power chairs do not suffer from this problem since they are controlled with a joystick.
I have so far failed to get any interest in my suggestion for scooters, so if any disability organisation read this letter, I would be pleased to discuss the matter with them.