DRIVING OUT STIGMA: Irina Foster hopes more awareness around mobility scooter laws and regulations will help reduce the endless abuse she faces as a mobility scooter user.
DRIVING OUT STIGMA: Irina Foster hopes more awareness around mobility scooter laws and regulations will help reduce the endless abuse she faces as a mobility scooter user. Marian Faa

Endless abuse for obeying laws 'no one knows about'

IRENA Foster looks back on the day she almost got collected by a semi-trailer at a Warwick intersection and wishes she had known about mobility scooter laws.

Strict rules are designed to address the dangers of mobility scooter use but many ignore the laws or don't know they exist.

"People haven't got a clue," Ms Foster said.

A mobility scooter user for 10 years, Ms Foster only came across the laws when recently helping her daughter apply for a learner licence.

Things like wearing a helmet, driving less than 12km/h and keeping to the left on footpaths are part of a suite of rules mobility scooter users must abide by.

 

DID YOU KNOW: People on mobility scooters must keep left on footpaths and drive on the right side of the road. They must wear a helmet and cannot use a mobile phone while driving.
DID YOU KNOW: People on mobility scooters must keep left on footpaths and drive on the right side of the road. They must wear a helmet and cannot use a mobile phone while driving. Marian Faa

Dangers need addressing with ageing population

In Australia, at least 62 people have died from mobility scooter accidents.

Warwick resident Nick Inmon's father passed away after suffering serious brain injuries from a scooter accident in 2016.

The 70-year-old man was knocked off his scooter and trapped under a car when a vehicle failed to give way at an intersection.

Mr Inmon said an ageing population meant road regulators would have to address a higher volume of mobility scooters.

"They may need to run courses for people who use them," he said.

But Ms Foster said the physical danger was just part of the problem.

 

MORE TO HER STORY: Irena Foster has osteoarthritis and heart conditions that affect her mobility. She hopes more awareness will make roads and footpaths safer for scooter users.
MORE TO HER STORY: Irena Foster has osteoarthritis and heart conditions that affect her mobility. She hopes more awareness will make roads and footpaths safer for scooter users. Marian Faa

Abuse from all angles

She said the constant stream of abuse was something that would take much longer to address.

"Pedestrians will swear at me, call me fat and useless," she said.

On the road, other vehicles honk, flash their headlights and tell her to move to the other side of the road.

Ms Foster hoped increased awareness of the regulations would improve safety and reduce the "obscene" abuse she faced every day.

"People just think we are too lazy to walk and they don't understand we are just trying to follow the rules."

Under law, failing to keep left could land Ms Foster with an $84 fine.

But many pedestrians expect her to steer to the right on the footpath to move out of their way.

 

BIG ISSUE: Driving down the main street, Irina Foster cops endless abuse from people who don't understand the medical condition behind her mobility scooter.
BIG ISSUE: Driving down the main street, Irina Foster cops endless abuse from people who don't understand the medical condition behind her mobility scooter. Marian Faa

More to mobility that laziness

Ms Foster said stigma surrounding the use of mobility scooters was everywhere.

"People comment on my size, but they don't know what I have been through," she said.

Suffering from osteoarthritis, Ms Foster uses a mobility device to "save her from the embarrassment" of falling over if she stands for extended periods of time.

"People don't seem to understand that I have a medical condition that makes me need this scooter," she said.

In order to register her vehicle with the Department of Transport, Mrs Foster had to go through rigorous medical checks.

The Department was unable to provide a response.



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