Scooters raising hackles

THE State Government is to investigate separating motorised scooters and wheelchairs from pedestrians under the law as pressure mounts to crackdown on the devices.

But a spokesman for the Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, said there was no plan to introduce "complex and expensive" registration requirements for motorised scooters and wheelchairs as it would likely reduce opportunities for less- able people to interact with the community. Currently in NSW motorised wheelchair and mobility scooter users are treated as pedestrians.

Legally they can travel at 10km/h but many devices are capable of speeds of up to 15km/h.

At this weekend's Local Government Association conference in Dubbo, western Sydney council Holroyd is to call for the State Government to provide a clear regulatory distinction between pedestrians and the motorised devices.

In a submission to the conference, Holroyd said it was "concerned about the lack of controls and skills of elderly people and other needy persons who create a public hazard by riding motorised scooters and electric wheelchairs on public paths and roads without any regulatory controls imposed on the scooters or their drivers".

The council wants it made compulsory for motorised scooter owners to obtain a certificate of ownership and competence before getting behind the wheel in order to cut down on the increasing number of accidents.

The issue reached a head locally with the October 13 accident at Ballina involving a 92-year-old mobility scooter operator who ploughed into the back of two elderly pedestrians. Lesley Nicholson, 66, sustained serious injuries that are expected to keep her in Lismore Base Hospital for two months. Jessie Mote, 80, suffered a fractured collarbone.

No charges will be laid over the incident as it is classed as a pedestrian accident.

The families of both women are campaigning for a crackdown on the devices.

 

The victim's husbands Charles Nicholson and Mervyn Mote met with Ballina MP Don Page yesterday to push for speeds to be capped at around 8km/h - closer to walking pace - and compulsory registration and third-party insurance.

Mr Page told The Northern Star that there was a very good argument to look at tightening regulations.

Tony Bergmans from Elite Mobility Scooters in Ballina said retailers were doing all they could to promote safety, with training provided to all purchasers.

Mr Bergmans said the 92-year-old involved in the Ballina incident was known to be a "very conservative and careful driver" who had been very shaken up by the accident.



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