The use of a mobility scooter in Australia might be subject to new rules if the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee’s proposal to regulate drivers gains approval.
The plan elicited mixed feedback from consumer groups and safety advocates. If you’re planning to buy a portable mobility scooter, some suppliers could walk you through the selection process to make sure that you only buy the right type of scooter for you or your loved one.
The committee floated the idea of regulating mobility scooter drivers after it discovered 129 fatalities among users and three pedestrians from 2000 to 2017 and hospitalisation of 350 elderly drivers between 2006 and 2009.
Drivers of mobility scooters and other similar vehicles aren’t required to obtain a license, or have it registered and insured before using one. In New South Wales, for instance, the state government treats mobility scooter drivers as pedestrians. However, users should not exceed the speed limit of 10 km/h and must have issues with a physical disability or limited mobility.
Austroads’ forecast showed that there are more than 156,000 users of mobility equipment in the country, but that number could change as the ageing population increases in Australia. While it allows them to move freely and with independence, the proposal to regulate these vehicles emerged as some people use it under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
As a result, new regulations should only focus on restricting people from easily obtaining mobility scooters without a valid reason. Occupational Therapy Australia and COTA said the proposal should not make it harder for seniors to use these devices, pursuant to national anti-discrimination policies.
Even if the proposal doesn’t come into fruition, Australians should observe best practices on safety when choosing and driving mobility scooters. These include buying from suppliers that also specialise on repairs and maintenance.