News Local

Driver training eyed for scooter users

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

FOTOLIA

FOTOLIA

A University of B.C. researcher is looking at the need for driver training for electric scooter users so they don’t hurt themselves or others.

Dr. Ben Mortenson said there’s no mandatory training for the mobility devices apart from perhaps a quick spin inside a store, and other studies suggest the dangers of using a scooter range from a few injuries to up to 15 accidents in a scooter per year.

He knows some of the common risks include collisions with other pedestrians, taking corners too fast — cause scooters to tip over — or crashing into curbs.

“Most of the training people receive is trial and error on their own. For some people it works out fine, but there’s always those who don’t realize scooters are very special,” Mortenson said.

“The thing is, they weigh a considerable amount — a scooter can weigh 150 lbs and the person can weigh another 150 to 200 lbs. You’re dealing with a 400-lb object going down the sidewalk. Some scooters can go up to 13 kilometres an hour — that’s a fast jog. That’s a 45-minute Sun Run.”

The occupational science and therapy assistant professor wants to determine whether there should be some form of training guidelines developed. The first step of his work is to go into the homes of new scooter users to find out where they’re going and how they’re getting there.

“We’ll train them how to cross roads safely. How to handle curb cuts safety. How to negotiate inclines, potholes, speedbumps, curves, elevators. Driving in and amongst pedestrians, dealing with traffic, all those skills and we’re going to embed that in their community,” Mortenson said.

The work is part of a $300,000 study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Mortenson is recruiting men and women age 60 or above, who have recently acquired a scooter within the past month.

“How do you know they’re not safe if you didn’t give them adequate training? Let’s give people training and see if we can make them safe,” Mortenson said.

To participate, contact Leena Chau at 604-714-4108 or at leena.chau@ubc.ca.