News

Power scooter speed cap call

Jess Mote of Ballina was injured by a scooter in Ballina. Pictured at The Lismore Base Hospital.
Jess Mote of Ballina was injured by a scooter in Ballina. Pictured at The Lismore Base Hospital. Patrick Gorbunovs

THE families of two women who sustained serious injuries after being hit by a motorised wheelchair at Ballina 10 days ago are campaigning for a crackdown on the devices, claiming they are a law unto themselves.

Neighbours Lesley Nicholson, 66, and Jessie Mote, 80, were struck from behind by a mobility scooter operated by a 92-year-old woman on October 13 on their way to Ballina Uniting Church on Cherry St.

The force of the impact was such that Lesley was catapulted into the air landing on the footpath's verge, her husband Charles Nicholson said.

Her left leg and both ankles were broken along with several smaller bones in her left foot.

Lesley underwent treatment for breast cancer last year and she now faces two months in hospital with both her legs in plaster, Mr Nicholson said.

"Life was just starting to return to normal and now it's all upside down again," he said.

Jessie sustained a fractured collarbone after she was smashed against a brick wall and then landed on the cement footpath.

The scooter, which weighs more than 100kg, came to rest on Jessie with her head between the spinning wheels, her husband Mervyn Mote said.

She has been released from hospital but faces months of therapy, Mr Mote said.

Mr Nicholson and Mr Mote and their families have launched a campaign to cap the speeds of mobility scooters at walking pace, in line with Australian road rules which treat them as pedestrians. They also want to make third-party insurance compulsory. They currently travelling at up to 15km an hour.

They are seeking urgent meetings with their local MPs, including Ballina MP Don Page, to push for the changes.

Inspector Nicole Bruce from Ballina police, confirmed no charges would be laid over the incident as it was classed as a pedestrian accident.

An angry Mr Nicholson has vowed to take the matter up with the Department of Public Prosecutions.

"I'm not for a minute suggesting that this person ... needs to be locked up. But there has to be action taken ... to indicate how serious it is," he said.

Ballina Shire Council Mayor David Wright said he would support a tightening of State Government regulations around mobility scooters. Cr Wright said they were growing in number in Ballina with people increasingly using them for convenience rather than necessity. There were 62 fatalities related to motorised mobility scooters between July 2000 to August 2010.

Topics:  motorised scooters



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