Over the last 10 years there has been an explosion in the number of people using mobility scooters and that number is set to increase further. This is fantastic, as they offer a way for those who are mobility impaired to retain their independence. There has also been a huge increase in the range of scooters available to consumers, offering fantastic choice. However, what has not kept up is the training for mobility scooter users. Our research shows that training for mobility scooter users differs markedly nationally and internationally. Across the UK, the training picture is patchy. New scooter users normally receive some basic handling training, and although courses exist that are often run by charities, they are not the norm. In a questionnaire to 270 scooter users we found that only 38% had received some form of training and 91% felt that more could be done to promote safe use.
Why the need for training?
Evidence shows that scooter use has a range of benefits, providing greater freedom and independence, allowing people to participate in more activities, improving self-esteem, an increased sense of security and an improved overall quality of life. Using a scooter for the first time however is quite tricky, both in terms of handling a scooter but also because users are ill prepared for the challenges they might be faced with when out and about. Our aim is to improve safety for scooter users by making them more prepared, and in so doing we also hope to reduce the number of people put off using them after an initial difficult experience, allowing more people to use scooters safely and reap the benefits of greater independence.
Over the last two years we have engaged in a two year long research project to develop a training resource for scooter users. This has involved questionnaires, interviews with users and a driving study where we attach HD cameras to scooters and the drivers wear special eye tracking glasses that show us where they are attending. Analysis of all this data has led to the development of our free to use training tool See and Scoot. The training tool is a 20-minute DVD and is unique in several ways. Firstly, it is aimed at preparing users for the hazards they might face when out and about. This means the training can be complementary to any manual handling training. Second the training footage is from a scooter user’s perspective. The footage is also “live” footage and not staged, showing just what it feels like to be a scooter user in the real world. We have just launched our training online for free at https://www.testmydriving.com/see-scoot. This means that prospective users, new users, and existing users can access it free of charge. We hope that scooter users might find it helpful and that this will help create a safer scooting experience for all. At NAIDEX we are hoping that people throughout the independent living sector will visit our stall, pick up some information and let us know what they think about See and Scoot!