Brisbane resident and Spinal Life member Charlie Ford says changes to speed limits and restrictions for mobility scooters are unnecessary at best and restrictive and discriminative at worst.
His response comes following a Senate inquiry into mobility device regulations and recent recommendations from Brisbane City Council to reduce the speed limit from 10km/h to 6km/h and introduce a licence system to ensure riders are fit enough to operate their devices.
Mr Ford, who has quadriplegia from a spinal cord injury and builds his own power wheelchairs as a hobby, said Queensland already enjoyed one of the most progressive regulations around mobility devices in the country and did not see the need for change.
“Imagine crossing six-lanes of traffic at a pedestrian crossing on a mobility device or trying to get home in pouring rain – speed becomes an important factor,” he said.
“How many mobility scooter accidents are actually caused by speed? I’d say the majority would be not exercising due care or driving to conditions, meaning limiting speed for everyone will not fix the root cause.
“I can see the merits of introducing a licence system, but your doctor already has a duty of care to declare you fit enough to operate a mobility device when you’re issued a required medical certificate.
“Our regulations are fine – if safety is really a concern, then why not look at mandatory reflectors or lights on mobility devices for night operation?”
Spinal Life Australia officially submitted its own response to the Senate inquiry on mobility device regulations in April.
Spinal Life’s Chief Advisor – Government John Mayo said limiting speed on power wheelchairs or mobility scooters would add further inconvenience to people with no other choice about how they get around.
“Reducing the speed limit for all mobility devices does not consider the varying mobility and functioning needs of people with a disability,” he said.
“You also can’t just throw power wheelchairs and mobility scooters in the same category for regulation as they are very different.
“The difference between 10km/h and 6km/h can be quite significant and would add additional inconvenience and delay to people with a disability and the aged, two groups who already experience enough of those things daily.
“Queensland already has a nation-leading model for mobility device regulation and we don’t need to see the need to change it.”
To read Spinal Life Australia’s submission, visit www.spinal.com.au/publications.