The likes of Clearwell, Lifestyle & Mobility and Recare have put their weight behind calls for industry manufacturers to take some of the responsibility for improving the safety of mobility scooters.
Discussing what the industry can do to reduce incidents involving mobility scooters, some of the UK’s top retailers suggested that manufacturers have the potential to make a significant impact on safety.
Much of the responsibility of scooter safety falls on reputable dealers, many of whom run proficiency courses, do thorough assessments, educate users and try and ensure customers take out insurance.
But Darren Macey, business development manager at Lifestyle & Mobility, which is one of the South Coast’s key industry retailers, used the example of the automotive industry and how technology has advanced significantly to improve safety.
He suggested that the pre-collision radar systems that are used in modern cars could be “the way forward”.
“Collision avoidance systems could be fitted to class three products,” Macey said. “It could be that only class three scooters have these safety systems.
“Or some kind of kill-switch maybe. It’s simple things that people can relate to. There are lots of things suppliers could do to make scooters safer.”
Clearwell Mobility’s managing director, Duncan Gillett, agreed, praising Macey’s collision avoidance system as a “brilliant idea”.
He said: “The other thing you could have is a speed limiter so that if you’re on a pavement the radar could pick up that there are lots of objects around you.”
Lifestyle & Mobility’s managing director, Aaron Sverdloff, said that one of the easiest ways to improve safety on scooters would be for manufacturers to build in safety systems.
Meanwhile, Giles Donald, director at London-based dealer, Wheelfreedom, agreed that certain built-in solutions could potentially help to avoid accidents.
He said that confusion at the controls is a common cause of accidents and that people can panic.
Richard Holland-Oakes, who runs Recare, said that the next stage in improving scooter safety is to bring the main manufacturers on-board.
“They need to be on the same page,” he said. “I really don’t think this discussion should just fizzle out. We’ve got to get some sort of result.”
However, he expressed concern that suppliers exporting to some UK distributors from the Far East could hijack efforts to ensure the whole industry supports an initiative for manufacturers across the board to agree to improve safety.
Gavin Thompson, commercial director of the Disability Trading Company, was also wary of pressing manufacturers, fearing that some may simply take their business elsewhere if dealers took a stand.
Scooter safety is an increasing concern within the industry and among the public. A number of deaths this year involving mobility scooters has continued the trend from 2018 when injuries and deaths were regularly reported in local and national newspapers.
Many mobility retailers around the country have started to run proficiency tests for scooter users but dealers do not generally believe they can solve the issue on their own and are calling for support from the rest of the supply chain.
The discussion arose during AMP’s roundtable debate this month, which will be published in full in the March edition.
Image: Paul Martyniuk