Reckless mobility scooter riders are a danger to the public, charities warn

Sophie Foster
Mobility scooters are involved in an increasing number of accidents on Britain's roads - E+

Road accidents involving reckless mobility scooter riders are on the rise, safety charities have warned, amid calls persistent offenders should face having their electric vehicles confiscated.

Influential road safety groups have called for laws to be clarified so users are reminded of their responsibilities while travelling on streets and pavements, including being subject to road traffic legislation.

Currently mobility scooter users do not require a licence to operate vehicles, though high-powered versions must be registered with the DVLA before being driven on roads.

It means those caught committing criminal offences such as driving scooters while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are often free to continue using them and are served with driving penalties instead.

IAM Roadsmart, one of Britain's leading driver awareness groups, has now suggested repeat offenders should face having their electric vehicles seized when all other options are exhausted.

Rebecca Ashton, from the charity, said: “Anyone driving a mechanically-propelled vehicle must be in full control of it, they need to be fully capable of controlling the machine to avoid causing danger to themselves or other road users. 

"Persistent offenders should be fined every time and banned if have a licence, offering a re-education course could help people to understand the dangers of using such a machine while unfit through drink or drugs. 

"Education is paramount to helping people know what they can and can’t do on their mobility scooters, and investment into helping people understand the rules would be welcomed.

“We would say each case would need to be looked at on an individual basis, with education playing an important role. Removing the scooter should only be considered when all other options have failed."

While the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) called for traffic laws to be clarified after it said figures showed a rise in the number of accidents and casualties since records began in 2013.

A spokesperson said: "As with all forms of transport mobility scooters create some risk for both the user and for other people. 

"The number of accidents and casualties involving mobility scooters is increasing.

"It would help if it was made clear that road traffic laws governing careless and dangerous driving all apply to mobility scooter users."

It comes in the wake of a case involving a drunken mobility scooter user who was punished with a three-year driving ban even though he doesn't use a car. 

Michael Heaven, 56, was disqualified from the roads after he pleaded guilty driving a mechanically powered vehicle in Swindon last month. 

The 56-year-old admitted the offence at Swindon Magistrates Court after tests showed he was over one-and-a-half times the drink drive limit when he was breathalysed by police while riding his burgundy-coloured scooter.

Heaven claimed he felt "victimised" by the disqualification, adding it was meaningless as he doesn't use a car. 

He said: "Even the solicitor said it's something he's never come across. I didn't drive anyway."

But Wiltshire Police defended the decision to prosecute. Sgt Tristian Winter said: "This man was over one-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit and was convicted under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act which essentially makes it an offence to drive or ride a mechanically propelled vehicle while impaired by drink or drugs.

"Members of the public should be aware that if they plan to use such a vehicle that they should not drink or take drugs as they are putting other people, and themselves in danger, and they will be caught and put before the courts."

Last year, a district judge in Northern Ireland found he could not ban a 70-year-old repeat drink-driver from using his mobility - despite a lengthy record.

And in July 2017, John Hunt, then 54, was endorsed with 10 penalty points but allowed to continue riding his scooter when he admitted being drunk while driving his mobility scooter as he made his way home from a night out in Colchester.