Nottingham Trent University
Uploaded to Knowledge Centre
19 March 2020
Prior to this project, no research had been conducted to try and understand the types of hazards motorised mobility scooter (MMS) users face, and what strategies they use to deal with them.
This Road Safety Trust grant was designed to fill this research gap and in particular focus on road crossings, the most hazardous situations for MMS users.
The project led to the creation of See and Scoot, an effective, evidenced-based, free to use online training tool for MMS users. A number of organisations are already using See & Scoot including TGA Mobility, one of the UK’s largest MMS manufacturers.
The project also confirms the positive impact MMS use has on users’ lives, and represents an important step in understanding how to improve safety for MMS users..
MMS numbers In the UK have increased from an estimated 90,000 in 2005 to 300,000-350,000 in 2014, with this number estimated to continue increasing at a rate of 5- 10% per year. MMS have become one of the most popular methods of assisting mobility and short distance travel due to their easy operation and compact design, and because they can be used indoors and outdoors.
Not much is known about MMS collisions due to the way they are reported (or not). However, in 2014 there were 209 reported mobility scooter related collisions in England and Wales, including nine fatal road incidents (DfT, 2015). In a study of 43 MMS users, Hoenig, Pieper, Branch and Cohen (2007) found that 18% of users reported collisions during a three-month period, suggesting the number of minor incidents is quite high.
In relation to enhancing the safety of MMS users, there is a patchwork of approaches across the country, ranging from advice tools and training DVDs, to training days and training centres. Much of the available training focuses on vehicular control and research into the effectiveness of training programmes is limited and of variable quality.
Importantly, no research has been conducted to try and understand the types of hazards MMS users might face and what strategies they use to deal with these. Whilst vehicle handling is of central importance, it is also important to train users about the situations they might face, and how to handle them. This Road Safety Trust grant was designed to do this, and in particular to focus on road crossings, the most hazardous situations for MMS users.
The two-year project had multiple phases. The first phase was a large-scale questionnaire to assess the types of hazards users faced and find out how they dealt with these, while also getting an understanding of training received, MMS experience and views on MMS use (benefits and disadvantages).
Out of 268 users who responded, only 38% reported that they had received any training. Of the types of training users reported, the most frequent involved vehicular controls (39%). Training users about the hazards they might encounter in a real-world environment, and strategies that can be used to increase safety while out on the road, was rarely reported.
The study identified the following key categories of hazards for MMS users; pedestrians, traffic/other drivers, structural design of road crossings, visibility at crossings, space at crossings, structural design of roads/pavements, crossing time, scooter design, weather, and priority issues.
The second phase of the work comprised a naturalistic driving study in which three GoPro HD cameras were attached to a mobility scooter and the MMS user wore mobile eye tracking glasses, while they negotiated a route around Nottingham City Centre which included 42 crossings. 27 MMS users took part and he data was analysed to see the type of hazardous situations users were presented with, and assess how they dealt with these. 13 MMS users then re-watched their footage, and explained why they behaved in particular ways.
These studies confirmed the themes of hazard identified in the questionnaire and provided real life footage of some of these hazards being encountered and negotiated. The project then used this footage to create a training DVD, See and Scoot, which is now available to MMS users for free.
See & Scoot is unique because it is evidence based using data provided by MMS users, and is shot from the users’ perspective – thereby showing potential MMS users what it feels like to be in control of a MMS.
The final part of the project evaluated whether the See & Scoot DVD worked. 45 older adults with no MMS experience were trained to handle an MMS and then either shown See or Scoot or a video not related to MMS training. They then completed a course through Nottingham, which was recorded using GoPro HD cameras and eye tracking glasses, and this footage was then assessed.
Analysis showed that watching See and Scoot led to statistically significant improvements in the way hazards were negotiated, and to participants using more behaviours known to be advantageous, and better strategies to negotiate hazards. Those who watched See and Scoot were also more aware of strategies to negotiate hazards, but counterintuitively felt less able to deal with hazards – possibly because by being more aware of hazards they were more aware of their inability to effectively deal with them.
Overall the project led to the creation of See and Scoot, an effective, evidenced based, training tool. See and Scoot is available free online, and a number of organisations around the UK are already using it including TGA Mobility, one of the largest MMS manufacturers.
Given that the population in the UK is ageing, and that MMS are becoming much more popular, this project represents an important step in understanding how to improve safety for MMS users. The project data also confirms the positive impact MMS use has on users’ lives, which further demonstrates the need for better training for MMS users.
For more information, including the full project report and the See & Scoot training resource, visit the Road Safety Trust website: