Scooter safety becomes an issue

When a professional driving instructor suggested Jack Lucas wasn't fit to drive any more, the White Rock resident turned in his licence.

Two years later, he's found a new way to get around the town centre and up and down the hilly Semiahmoo Peninsula -- behind the wheel of his late wife's motorized scooter.

If he wanted to, Lucas, 87, could zoom through town at top speed, ride in the middle of traffic or head his own motorized scooter gang with the hundreds of others who ride "personal mobility vehicles."

That's because the Motor Vehicle Act is silent on motorized scooters and when, where and how they can be used in B.C. Although scooters have been around for years, there are no formal safety standards or regulations surrounding their use.

But that could soon change.

Following three deaths on Vancouver Island, the B.C. Coroners Service is asking the provincial government to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to define personal mobility vehicles and whether their users are motorists or pedestrians.

"There really is no limit where these vehicles are piloted at this moment...," coroner Jeff Dolan said. "What we want is to ensure these people are operating them safely."

According to the ICBC website, scooter users don't need a driver's licence, vehicle registration, licence plates or insurance, and can drive them on sidewalks or roads, following the same rules as pedestrians.

But the coroners' report said there aren't enough rules to keep all the riders -- whether they are using the scooters for health reasons or because of age -- safe on the roads.

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