Thursday 6 September 2012 – The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and NRMA Motoring & Services are highlighting the need for more education on integrating mobility scooters into local communities after survey results show scooter use is widespread across all age groups and people are using scooters to fill a variety of needs.
The research survey conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), CHOICE, EnableNSW, Flinders University, the NRMA and other mobility experts found that around 230,000 Australians use scooters, with more than half under the age of 60.
NRMA President Wendy Machin said the survey was a first of its kind in Australia and was funded by the NRMA to find out more about how mobility scooters were being used in local communities.
“Some people might think mobility scooters are mainly used as a replacement for cars when older people retire their licences, but our research shows that loss of a licence is a relatively low trigger for buying one,” Ms Machin said.
“Reduced walking and physical mobility is the main reason why nine in ten users buy a mobility scooter, with the scooter seen as a replacement for legs rather than a car.
“Scooters are also being used in conjunction with other forms of transport depending on individual needs; some people use their scooter as the main form of transport outside their home while others transport their scooter to another location like a shopping centre and use it there.
“Our research revealed just how treasured mobility scooters are as lifelines to providing independence and to maintaining social connections.
“We also found that mobility scooter use is higher in regional areas and this has ramifications on where users can go to access expert advice, training and other services.”
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said that the results also provided an insight into the type of safety incidents associated with mobility scooters.
“About five per cent of respondents to the extended version of the survey reported experiencing an incident. This included their scooter toppling over, colliding with an object, or tripping or falling from their scooter,” Ms Court said.
“Scooter users also identified a range of factors they felt contributed to these incidents, including not being noticed on roads or in parking lots.
“Although this research was focused on providing a better understanding of the demographics of mobility scooter users and patterns of use, the ACCC has also been working with a range of other stakeholders towards improving the safe use of mobility scooters themselves. This work is ongoing.”
Ms Machin said the NRMA looked forward to working with the ACCC and other stakeholders to raise the awareness of all road users (motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and scooter users) regarding the changing nature of mobility in Australia and how to safely integrate scooters into this new transport mix.
Kimberly Rigby, 0439 133 215, NRMA;
Duncan Harrod, 0408 995 408, ACCC