DUNCAN BARKES: The ‘menace’ of mobility scooters...

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WE need some new measures to tackle the growing menace of mobility scooters.

These contraptions are rightly valued and are a necessity to those with limited mobility, but this should not mean that they can roam the highways and byways with no accountability and in borderline kamikaze fashion.

The elderly population is growing bigger and living longer. West Sussex has an above-average number of retired and elderly people who use these scooters.

Those with disabilities also rely on these vehicles – plus, they are often the favoured mode of transport of the dangerously obese (to ensure no further damage is caused to worn joints).

Admittedly, the mobility scooter goes nowhere fast, but it is staggering that they can be driven without identification and by people who don’t have to take any kind of proficiency test.

Caren Jephson, from Derby, is currently campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of mobility scooters.

In her city alone, she has heard from more than 300 people who have reported scooter-related injuries.

There were also claims that owners had used them following a boozy session at the pub, and one sighting of a scooter being driven by a man swigging from a can of ale. Caren set up the campaign following an incident in which her son was hit and seriously injured by a mobility scooter.

Derby is not a big city. If she has received this number of reports from her locality alone, I bet the national figure would run into tens of thousands. Her petition calls for the introduction of a mandatory proficiency test.

She also wants mobility scooters only to be used by those registered disabled, and for each one to have an identification plate.

She is not alone with her concerns. A coroner has also criticised the serious lack of regulation after a 90-year-old woman was knocked down and killed by a scooter on an Isle of Wight pavement, in 2009.

Age-related charities fear that any new laws to tackle the dangers of mobility scooters could discourage some vulnerable older people from using them.

What utter poppycock. With rights come responsibilities.

Nobody is suggesting that these scooters should not be used, but rather that the time has come for their drivers to be safer and easily identifiable. Who could possibly disagree with this proposition? Let me know: email letters@worthingherald.co.uk, letters@shorehamherald.co.uk or letters@littlehamptongazette.co.uk, or comment below.