University turns attention to mobility scooter training

A new project by Nottingham Trent University aims to provide mobility scooter users with an in-depth video for how to safely operate the vehicles following a rising trend in the number of users and the number of accidents.

Led by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University, the project states it will advise and raise awareness to users "on the type of hazards they may face, how to spot them and how to prepare for them.”

Recent figures released regarding mobility scooters have revealed a worrying trend of increasing numbers of accidents involving mobility scooters, with a reported 260 incidents reported for 2016, with 14 proving fatal.

With an estimated 350,000 mobility scooter users in the UK – a number expected to rise up to 10 percent per year – there is currently no formal, legal training or assessment required to be taken by the user or administered by the seller, although the industry body BHTA has released a detailed Assessment Competency forms for members to use to assess suitability.

Other companies such as TPG Disable Aids and others offer free insurance whilst manufacturers such as TGA Mobility run free mobility scooter safety awareness days at our Head Office in Sudbury, as well as scooter training courses organised by charities and police forces.

The University plans to create a detailed training video featuring a combination of real-time user and staged footage to disseminate amongst users via Shopmobility outlets and other mobility charities.

Dr Duncan Guest, a psychologist in the university’s School of Social Sciences, commented on the need to introduce optional training for users.

"There are a number of health and wellbeing benefits associated with using mobility scooters, such as increased independence and improving self-esteem,” commented Dr Guest.

"However, these benefits might not be realised if someone uses a scooter for the first time and gets into a difficult situation. Our aim is to improve the safety of new mobility scooter users and reduce potential collisions.”

Nottingham Trent University intends to invite experienced and inexperienced mobility scooter users to drive along a planned route with cameras recording the view from the user’s perspective and eye-tracking technology used to show what the driver is looking at.

The study will focus particular attention on the behaviour of mobility scooter users at road crossings and the difficulties they may encounter.

Afterwards, researchers will interview participants about their experiences of the route and they will also analyse footage to create the training video.

"To date, no-one has asked mobility scooter users about these, and we think that engaging with this community and developing a training tool will be really beneficial for new scooter users by improving their safety and their experience,” added Dr Guest.

Nottingham Trent University has received a £89,000 grant from the Road Safety Trust for the project.

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