For quite some time a large portion of the mobility retail community has been calling for legislation to be brought in to restrict who can be sold a mobility scooter. The debate was once again flung to the fore recently when a third local death in 18 months involving a mobility scooter spurred a Derby coroner to press Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
The coroner argued at an inquest into the death of a man with Alzheimer’s, who was killed after a collision on his mobility scooter, that measures should be brought in to assess a customer’s fitness to operate a scooter before they can purchase one.
Since then, dealers have been voicing their opinions and the general consensus seems to be that new legislation would be welcomed. This is unsurprising given that new laws prohibiting retailers selling scooters to people without a certificate proving their aptitude would theoretically mean hugely reduced competition from online sellers and safer roads.
But there is perhaps a word of caution to be said here. We have already seen this year that assessments effectively deciding how disabled someone is and whether they qualify for benefits can prove very complicated. The process, if executed poorly, can cause substantial grief for end-users. And while online competition would likely be reduced, there is a risk that strict assessments could impact on the sales of bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Before any new laws are considered then, it seems sensible for the industry to open up a debate on what it really wants and how to secure the best outcome for end-users. While the new initiative to pressure ministers is positive news for most traditional retailers, plenty of discussion between dealers, manufacturers, trade bodies and decision-makers should be encouraged. In this way, if new legislation is considered, the professionals at the coal face will have had their input and end-users will have the best chance at a good deal.