“IT was like being hit by a bus.” That was the description Eileen Butt, 90, gave after she was mowed down by a mobility scooter.
The pensioner was walking along the pavement in Hamble Lane with two friends when a scooter rider came “out of the blue” and hit them all from behind.
Mrs Butt was pushed to the ground, fell on to her face and suffered severe head and facial injuries. But even though she required hospital treatment, the mobility scooter rider who had knocked her over drove off before an ambulance arrived and did not leave her details.
Mrs Butt said it was left to the landlord and pubgoers at the Whyte Harte Pub to help her and her friends – who had also been hurt in the incident.
Mrs Butt explained: “We were walking along the pavement, three in a line, and it just came out of the blue. It was as if a bus had driven straight into my back. I’ll never forget the sensation.
“We landed on the ground and she came over to us and said: ‘Sorry, didn’t you hear my hooter?’ “I was completely knocked out for a couple of seconds.
“Thank goodness it happened outside the pub – they picked us up and took us inside and got us cups of tea. The driver came in the pub afterwards and she just said: ‘Who’s paying for those teas?’ and walked out again.
“She never even said sorry – we could not believe it,” said the pensioner who has black eyes and a bruise the size of an orange on her head.
Mrs Butt says police are investigating – but she is now worried about going out, in case something similar happens again.
The incident has raised the question of the safety of mobility scooters – and whether or not users should undertake compulsory training or even a formal test if they do not possess a driving licence.
David Livermore, chairman of mobility scooter rambling group Hampshire Roamability, believes that there could be a case for some sort of assessment – if people have never driven before.
He said: “I think some people certainly need an assessment and a little bit more guidance on how to control the scooter and a bit of road sense – because if you haven’t driven before you haven’t got that road sense. I don’t know if that should be a compulsory test or just a bit more guidance and supervision.”
Mobility scooters in law are limited to 4mph on the pavement and must have a speed restrictor fitted to them – but Mr Livermore says it is a rule that is occasionally broken by some users.
He said: “People going above 4mph on the pavement is a potential problem but it is up to scooter users to be responsible.
“The law is clear, but you always get people who will abuse any rules – just like you get cyclists who cycle on the pavement.”
It is an issue that has been looked into by the Government for several years – with a consultation in 2010 asking people if they would support measures such as mandatory training and eye tests.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) say figures are not compiled for the number of injuries caused by mobility scooters – but anecdotal evidence suggests it is a problem.
A spokesman said: “We occasionally receive calls from people concerned about being nearly knocked down by mobility scooters, and although these calls are relatively low in number, they do occur regularly.
“Usually, the complaint is that the mobility scooter user appeared to lack the ability to use their scooter safely, or was not showing any consideration for other people.
“Mobility scooters are used as vehicles, whether on the road or the pavement, and have the potential, if misused, to cause injury or even death.”
Given the lack of figures, the society has fallen short of calling for tighter regulations on those that use mobility scooters – but has said that road traffic laws, particularly those concerning dangerous and drink-driving, should apply to riders.
This week the Government’s transport minister, Norman Baker, said that there are no current plans for drastic changes to the law. However, the idea of training and mandatory eye tests for users of the more powerful mobility scooters is being considered.
He said: “I intend to convene a meeting of interested parties to review the available evidence and options, including matters relating to insurance and the use of specialist training providers.
“I am conscious of the crucial role such vehicles play in some people’s lives and that will be an important factor in deciding what further actions, if any, to take.”