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mobility scooters a dangerous menace to pedestrians?
Posted: 04 March 2012 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]
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From a note I put on FB this morning and thought I’d put it here too: 

mobility scooters a dangerous menace to pedestrians
by Rebecca Hulit on Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 10:42am ·

This morning I read a post from a FaceBook friend sharing her frustration over being nearly run over by an individual on a mobility scooter inside a store while she shopped.  At first glance this might simply be an amusing account but the more I thought about it, the more curious I became examining the dimensions of an ever-growing problem.

The first law concerning traffic is a legal issue just about anywhere is that of yielding to pedestrians (those on foot which differs in definition, even in Webster’s Dictionary, to those behind a powered vehicle (which would apply to power scooters).

The second law (still in traffic) is mainly that of ethics.  Most of us are taught to honor the handicapped so we are careful to move out of their way, giving them the right of way.  However, there becomes a real difference between the definition of ‘handicapped’ when applied to one who has been given a methodology that moves them from immobile to VERY mobile.

The third law (again still in traffic) is individual responsibility within a gray area.  And this is an issue that may need to be addressed very soon as the world’s major population ages and mobility scooters become a staggering pattern.  I’m one of the aging population and now have some difficulty walking so I’m not as maneuverable as I once was and have been nearly run over by some on mobility scooters who seem to think I can jump out of their way.

So I got curious to see if there were some encounters in the news to give more credence to my and other folks’ growing concerns.  Not only did I find injuries to pedestrians, but also deaths from mobility scooter ‘drivers’ as well as traffic snarls on main highways from irresponsible behaviors.  Amazingly, because mobility scooters do not presently fall under the same liabilities as other motor vehicles, the drivers cannot be prosecuted the same way even though a goodly number may well be under the influence of medications, unable to hear well, unable to see well even with glasses as well as many having impaired reflexes that banish them from driving a car.

Among articles found just through Google:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8436558.stm

“There have even been injuries to pedestrians. Last year two-year-old Madison McNair was knocked down by a 70-year-old woman driving a mobility scooter on a pedestrianised street in Doncaster.

Caught in the wheels of the machine, the toddler was dragged down the road as the driver carried on apparently unaware of what had happened. Since mobility scooters are exempt from the Road Traffic Act the police were powerless to act against the driver.”

http://franceswilliams.suite101.com/mobility-scooters-and-the-law-a337881

“This situation has come back into the spotlight after the inquest of a 90-year-old lady who died from her injuries after being knocked down by a scooter driven by a man who was alleged to drive aggressively. Mobility scooter drivers are exempt from prosecution for careless or dangerous driving because their scooters are not classified as a motor vehicle. Consequently the coroner has called for the laws surrounding the use of mobility scooters to be reassessed.”

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Posted: 04 March 2012 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I have every bit of sympathy for those who *need* such devices - the elderly and those who can get around, but not easily. However, the vast (downright enormous, even) majority of those who I see using such things are of the ‘morbidly obese’ variety. I am uncomfortably reminded of the future humans in Wall-E, who no longer *need* to walk…

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Posted: 04 March 2012 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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hulitoons - 04 March 2012 10:19 AM

“This situation has come back into the spotlight after the inquest of a 90-year-old lady who died from her injuries after being knocked down by a scooter driven by a man who was alleged to drive aggressively. Mobility scooter drivers are exempt from prosecution for careless or dangerous driving because their scooters are not classified as a motor vehicle. Consequently the coroner has called for the laws surrounding the use of mobility scooters to be reassessed.”

It seems bizarre they would be exempt from prosecution simply because they aren’t classified as motor vehicles. I’m sure if i walked down the street with a club and hit somebody on the head with it I’d be prosecuted even though I wasn’t driving a motor vehicle.

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Posted: 04 March 2012 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Peter….......that’s….. well that’s a very good point….......!

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Posted: 04 March 2012 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree. If you’re not on foot, then you should at least be a bit more mindful of those around you who are.  And it’s not just people in those scooter things, it’s also those people who ride bikes and the like.  I’ve known a few people who have been knocked over by cyclists.

It’s like as if people believe that if they’re not in a car or an actual road vehicle, traffic laws don’t apply to them.  Which was why I was extremely pleased to see this article last week.

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Posted: 04 March 2012 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Bicycles here are restricted to some of the same laws as other street vehicles.  They are not permitted on sidewalks or other pedestrian right of ways and must obey stop signs etc.  They don’t need a displayed license plate though.  I am unsure of speeding in restricted school zones zones.  They are, of course, like other street vehicles (even skate boards) dangerous to others around them.

However, the vehicles I’m more concerned with here are those that ARE permitted in stores, sidewalks and within public buildings.  In many ways more confined areas where people walk are more difficult too for these larger mobility scooters to maneuver and where speed and unskilled hands, eyes, ears etc. become even more dangerous.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 01:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Well, as far as biking goes, I’ve got something of a better view of things. I live in Davis, California, home of the Cycling Hall of Fame. With bikeable weather 90% of the year, mostly-flat terrain, and extensive bike lanes, riding is a way of life here. This town is agressively bike-friendly, but that comes with a certain degree of mutual respect, as well. Bikes know what they can and cannot do, and the cars in turn know to watch out for cyclists.

The police force has at least two bicycle officers, who will make sure that folks are riding in accordance with laws and not blowing through stop signs or rding on sidewalks. They can and have pulled over cars, too, which is always funny to watch.

That being said, it’s always interesting come September, when you have a combination of drivers not used to the volume of bikes combined with people who haven’t ridden since they were twelve.

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1: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If it does what it says, you should have no problem with this.
2: What proof will you accept that you are wrong? You ask us to change our mind, but we cannot change yours?
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4. Personal testamonials are not proof.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 03:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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With regard to cycling, in the UK push bikes are supposed to be on the road, but I have found this a stupid premise as it says that all push bikes are vehicles that should be sharing the road with 20 tonne trucks. An eight year old on a BMX shouldn’t be sharing the road with vehicles of that size and I’d rather they were on the pavement (sidewalk) than in the road, or better still have a dedicated lane, but that is very hard to achieve on the tiny roads of Britain.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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‘Dedicated’ lanes would be nice and we have some here (biking and jogging paths) near parks.  Very few bikes are seen here because it’s too dangerous to ride them beside fast-moving cars and they are not permitted on sidewalks or inside buildings.  They are not permitted on specific transit highways, nor is jogging.

Which comes back to the point of my thread, that mobility scooters (electric wheelchairs) for the handicapped fall under no specific guidelines.  Bikes and have defined areas and restrictions.  Handicap electric wheelchairs-mobility scooters are permitted and designed to go where people walk on sidewalks, inside buildings.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Good point, Huli. Any 8 year old riding their BMX bike inside a shopping mall would be scolded and probably a stern phone call made to their parents. Less so someone riding the same speed on a scooter.

Those things are capable of some serious damage. There was one person who, after not reaching the elevator in time, proceeded to batter down the doors of the elevator with his scooter. Of course, the elevator had moved, and so he and his scooter fell into the open shaft, where he died. Mind, they found that the problem was not the guy in the disability scooter, but that the doors were improperly secured against being struck like that.  http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2010-08.html

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1: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If it does what it says, you should have no problem with this.
2: What proof will you accept that you are wrong? You ask us to change our mind, but we cannot change yours?
3: It is not our responsability to disprove your claims, but rather your responsability to prove them.
4. Personal testamonials are not proof.

What part of ‘meow’ don’t you understand?

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Posted: 05 March 2012 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Good grief!  Nevermind the doors, I’m sorry the guy died but what he was doing with his scooter was akin to another of us taking a hammer to the same doors ...both would be cited as criminal and prosecutable:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_damage

Property damage (or, in the United Kingdom, criminal damage) is damage to or the destruction of public or private property, caused either by a person who is not its owner or by natural phenomena. Property damage caused by persons is generally categorized by its cause: neglect (including oversight and human error), and intentional damage. Intentional property damage is often, but not always, malicious. Property damage caused by natural phenomena may be legally attributed to a person if that person’s neglect allowed for the damage to occur.

Now imagine that same person ramming into another individual or group? 

As you said, bicycles, roller skates, skateboards etc. are not permitted to be used inside buildings OR sidewalks because of the danger of injury to pedestrians. 

I have a stand-on electric scooter that is meant for sport, but even I know better than to use it on the sidewalk and would never consider taking it to public places either because I don’t feel I have complete control!  I also know that in the near future I might be a candidate for a mobility device so I do understand why some folks use them.  However, I believe some avenues and restrictions in their use need to be put in place just as with driving a car to protect the public.  If the individual’s reflexes are impaired, if their hearing or sight is impaired beyond hearing aids, glasses, OR if they are on medications that impair their focus, then they should NOT be driving these and surely NOT around other people. 

 

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Posted: 05 March 2012 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Well, that’s in South Korea, but I’m certain that they have laws for property damage as well.

In any case, I’m pretty certain that clipping someone with a scooter with enough force to cause or potentially cause harm would be lumped under ‘reckless endangerment’, which is a useful catch-all for ‘you done somethin’ dangerous, you stupid git’.

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1: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If it does what it says, you should have no problem with this.
2: What proof will you accept that you are wrong? You ask us to change our mind, but we cannot change yours?
3: It is not our responsability to disprove your claims, but rather your responsability to prove them.
4. Personal testamonials are not proof.

What part of ‘meow’ don’t you understand?

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