Council backs calls for lower speed limits on mobility scooters

At least 129 riders and three pedestrians were killed in accidents involving mobility scooters between 2000 and 2017. Source: Getty

Brisbane City Council is backing calls for speed limit reductions and further restrictions on mobility scooter drivers across the country.

The council wants the scooter speed limit reduced from 10 kilometres per hour to a fast walking pace of 6km/h, and has demanded the Queensland state government introduce “basic licences” to ensure riders are physically and mentally fit to be behind the handlebars.

The push comes amid a federal parliamentary investigation into the safety of the vehicles, sparked after Senator John Williams pushed for a lower speed limit after his wife was injured in a collision with a scooter in 2017.

Read more: Call to slow down mobility scooters gains traction

Brisbane City Council infrastructure chairman Amanda Cooper told Starts at 60 the council believed there were current gaps in regulatory and licensing processes for mobility scooters that could be fixed to improve safety for all footpath users. 

Council has proposed that mobility scooter users be encouraged to use their speed limiter to travel at 6km/h in areas where pedestrians are present to ensure safety for all,” she said. 

“To further improve safety for all users, council proposed that state governments consider a basic licensing process to monitor users’ physical and cognitive ability to drive a scooter safely, with the frequency specified by their doctor.”

The council also warned it must widen footpaths to keep pedestrians safe.

Most Australian states and territories don’t require mobility scooter drivers to have a licence, insurance or medical checks, and the road rules they must obey are often vague. While they’re not meant to travel more than 10km/h on the footpath, it’s not uncommon to see drivers taking their scooters on-road – causing havoc for those around them.

Earlier this year, an elderly man was spotted on his mobility scooter cruising down the middle of a Melbourne road with no regard for the car behind him or other drivers trying to pass. Footage of the man was captured by 3AW producer Michael Hill. According to Hill, the man appeared to be be visually impaired.

Speaking on 3AW about the incident, Senator Derryn Hinch told radio host Neil Mitchell, authorities need to address the rising number of accidents caused by the scooters, which are largely free from road rules and regulations.

Read more: ‘Recipe for disaster’: Calls for lower speed limits on mobility scooters

In April, research from Monash University revealed at least 129 riders and three pedestrians were killed in accidents involving mobility scooters between 2000 and 2017, The Advertiser reported. The findings prompted fresh calls for elderly and disabled Australians to undergo compulsory training before using the vehicles.

What do you think? Should mobility scooter laws be tougher? Are they dangerous?

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