Following the steady and worrying increase of mobility scooter accidents and fatalities across the UK, national news broadcaster ITV News approached Ableworld to talk about mobility scooter safety.

Rising accidents leads to rising concerns

Not a new issue, mobility scooter safety has made headlines over recent years following a string of accidents and fatalities, with THIIS reviewing the trend in detail earlier in the year.

According to figures released by the Department of Transport, there were 260 reported accidents in 2016, a stark contrast to the 84 reported in 2012. Fatalities also saw a sharp rise in 2016, rising 75% on the eight fatalities reported the previous year.

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As the largest mobility retailer in the UK, Ableworld appeared on the ITV News report, discussing what measures the company takes to keep its consumers safe.

Voluntary initiatives

In particular, Ableworld highlighted the free scooter proficiency sessions it runs, offering scooter users who lack confidence a chance to drive on a test track accompanied by a member of staff, have their scooters checked over and ask staff questions.

The news segment, aired 14th September on 6.30pm and 10pm nationally, showcased an Ableworld Scooter Proficiency Session at Pickmere Nursing Home in Crewe, with residents riding on the Test Track accompanied by store manager Darren Evans and engineer Mark Burrows carrying out safety checks on scooters.

In a short interview on the report, Michelle Mossford, Senior Marketing Manager at Ableworld, underlined the importance of training sessions.

“Ableworld rely on scooter users to come to these sessions but we can’t force them,” she explained.

“We would however champion anything that would keep our customers safe as well as other road users and pedestrians.”

Currently, there is no legal requirement to have a permit or undergo training to drive a mobility scooter, however, pressure has been mounting on the Government in wake of recent figures and growing public concern.

In addition to running free proficiency sessions, Ableworld also produces a free highway code for mobility scooter users, providing information to keep scooter drivers safe, as well insurance advice and guidance on how to use a scooter safely.

A mandatory requirement?

Having ran a successful scooter safety assessment track at April’s Naidex, John Garrard, Managing Director of Fish Insurance, called for called for a mandatory test to be introduced.

“As the leading providers of mobility scooter insurance, we recognise that safety for both scooter owners and pedestrians is a growing concern. As the number of mobility scooters increases across the UK, unfortunately, so too does the number of accidents.

We believe a standard assessment should be introduced to encourage responsible scooter ownership.”

The idea is one that has been suggested numerous times in the industry to a mixed reaction. Whilst many stakeholders, including retailers, suppliers and users, agree that action is required, the prospect of mandatory training raises questions of who would bear the costs of administering such an assessment.

With estimations of the number of mobility scooters in the UK reaching half a million, the cost of implementation is one of the biggest barriers to the Government bringing in mandatory measures.

Encouraging more debate

Discussing the company’s recent small screen appearance, Michelle told THIIS: “Chris Choi, the consumer editor, rang me a few weeks ago and, as far as I know, we were the only retailer asked to do an interview. This was solely down to some PR we had put out a few months ago.

“As an ethical retailer, Ableworld is so pleased that such an important subject as mobility scooter safety has managed to get national TV coverage and we hope this leads to other conversations within the industry.”

The company says it has always demonstrated an ethical approach to selling and at a time it claims when many mobility retailers have given in and sold scooters online with no checks.

In particular, Ableworld says it strongly believes that before purchasing mobility scooters, customers should be correctly assessed and advised which scooter fits their needs best.

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