Mobility scooter drivers to get special safety training
THEY are not exactly boy racers, but concerns for the safety of elderly and disabled drivers of mobility scooters has led to a driver training programme.
Mayo County Council said there have been several incidents involving mobility scooters and other road users.
Mobility scooter operators are now being offered free training sessions by the council's road safety office in conjunction with the Irish Wheelchair Association, due to fears that many accidents involving the vehicles have gone unreported.
Ireland has thousands of mobility scooter users, but the vehicles are exempt from road traffic rules. Users do not have to take a driving test and do not require a licence to use one.
Nor is there are legal requirement for mobility scooters to have insurance.
They have a top speed of just 8mph but statistics from around the world have left little doubt about the vehicles' danger.
More than 60 people have died from mobility scooter accidents in Australia, while there are also numerous reports of tragedies involving the vehicles from other countries.
The new training programme will teach users about the legal requirements of owning and operating a scooter and the skills required to drive their machine safely.
Road safety officer Noel Gibbons said: "The aim of the project is to help people with mobility issues to maintain their independence, while enhancing their own safety.
"With an increasing ageing population, some action has to be taken to ensure that standards are maintained in terms of the safety of these vehicles and that some basic training is undertaken by all users.
"It's important that, when they're sold to people who've never driven them before, they get proper training.
"We want people with disabilities to be as mobile as possible and enjoy going out and about on their scooters, but we also want them to be safe."