Scooters And One Wheels

Security considerations raised following Waimate mobility scooter rider’s loss of life

Mytchall Bransgrove/Stuff

Don McCabe at the Waimate Advertiser in 2012.

Concerns about the safety of mobility scooter riders in Waimate have been raised following another South Canterbury death of a man who was struck by a car while using a scooter.

Well-known Waimate resident Don McCabe, 85, died a day after he was struck by a vehicle on Monday at the junction of Harris and Manse streets while on his mobility scooter.

A police spokesperson said McCabe was taken to Timaru Hospital, but died the next day.

McCabe was the man behind the Waimate Advertiser, writing, editing and printing the town’s community newspaper for more than 40 years, until it closed in 2012.

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McCabe’s death was the second involving a mobility scooter user in South Canterbury in the past four months.

In October Thomas Patrick Casey, 95, died after his mobility scooter was struck by a car on North St.

A concerned Waimate mobility scooter user told The Timaru Herald most mobility scooter riders were worried about their safety when traveling through town.


Police inspect a mobility scooter damaged in a collision with a car on North St, Timaru in October 2022.

“In the last six to seven months I have had seven lucky escapes,” he said.

This week he had experienced a near miss himself, while traveling into town on Wednesday.

“I was going into town, and I was already halfway across a pedestrian crossing, and a ute was racing towards me and didn’t stop until they saw me at the last moment.

“It scared the hell out of me.”


A Waimate mobility scooter user said most riders in the town are worried about their safety when traveling through town. (File photo)

He said when he’s traveling through town with his mobility scooter, he stops and has a chat with other riders and most of them have had several instances where they came close to a collision with a motor vehicle.

“There are a lot of very good drivers out there who stop when you’re waiting at a pedestrian crossing and wave you through but it’s just that minority that are still dangerous.

“The only thing I ask of these drivers is to be aware that there’s a person on a scooter who can’t walk and the only means of transport for them is the mobility scooter.


Ernie Elston testing his skills in the obstacle course at the mobility scooter safety course in 2022. (File photo)

“Treat us the same as you would treat a normal pedestrian.”

All mobility scooter riders are in the same boat, not just with the near misses with motorists but also the rough footpaths they travel on, he said.

“What would help is if the council (staff) got on a scooter and traveled on the footpaths themselves and see the reality of it.”

He said the near misses with motorists has been going on for years, and six years ago, before he was on a mobility scooter, he was knocked over after a motorist failed to see him.


Janet McDonald, of Timaru, trying out a new mobility scooter at the Age Concern South Canterbury mobility scooter safety course in 2022. (File photo)

He said the only reason he survived that day is because he jumped back just in time and missed a head on collision by a few inches.

He said what would help reduce near misses and fatalities would be Waimate District Council putting up flashing orange lights at crossings to warn motorists about the crossing and putting up more signs around town.

Timaru Senior Citizens community co-ordinator Chris Thomas said the responsibility of safety lies both on motorists and mobility scooter users.

“A lot of motorists are not too aware of other road users like mobility scooter users and cyclists,” Thomas said.


Timaru Senior Citizens community co-ordinator Chris Thomas said the responsibility of safety lies both on motorists and mobility scooter users. (File photo)

“There are some drivers who need to be much more aware of not just what’s in front of them, but what’s around like footpaths and pedestrian crossings.

“Mobility scooters on the other hand are much smaller than cars, and sometimes it’s difficult to see them.

“There have been some mobility scooter deaths in South Canterbury over the years and there’s also been an increase in the number of people using mobility scooters.

“They are affordable and are a good economic alternative for people who can’t drive. But the vast majority of people who get scooters do so without training or learning all the rules.”

Thomas said places that sell mobility scooters do teach those buying it the basics of riding the scooter, but there are people who prefer to buy second hand or off someone else.

“They hop on the scooter with no proper training.

“There needs to be some sort of formalized training for people who buy a mobility scooter whether if they buy new or second hand and meet minimum standards.”

He said there are ways motorists and scooter riders can minimize dangers like scooter riders having flags and his-vis on and for motorists to check their surroundings properly when, for example, backing out of a driveway.

He added that Age Concern South Canterbury offer free courses for mobility scooter users and for aged motorists and plan to introduce the course in more towns.

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