Scooters Plus stresses safety

Saturday, December 31, 2005

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The death of a longtime customer in late October spurred Scooters Plus to begin giving away safety kits to customers who plan to ride their scooters and wheelchairs outdoors.
Forty-nine-year-old James Eason, a 10-year customer of Scooters Plus, died several days after he was hit by a truck while trying to cross the street in his power scooter.
"He had a disability since childhood and was in a scooter or wheelchair his whole life," said Tom Arnold, president of Scooters Plus. "He was one of those really nice guys that had a hard life, but he was living it out with a great sense of humor."
The kits, worth about $20, include folding flags and flashing beacons that customers can mount to the backs of their scooters or wheelchairs, as well as reflectors, reflective tape and small flashlights. The kits also include a one-page checklist that details, for example, when and how to cross a street.
Arnold hopes the kit will help customers better navigate the roads, especially in the fall and winter, when some areas in Florida experience a huge increase in traffic--from automobiles, pedestrians or even other scooters and wheelchairs.
"Down here, a lot of customers don't have a driver's license, and they use their scooters or wheelchairs as primary transportation, which can include going to the doctor, to the pharmacy or to the grocery store," he said. "You see these machines running up and down the sidewalks and along the highways, and it's absolutely dangerous. I don't think people understand that you cross at a marked crosswalk or that you cross with the light."
To put together the safety kits, Arnold worked with state troopers and the Fort Myers Police Department, as well as referenced local laws and regulations, he said.
Scooters Plus gives away the kits at its five locations in Florida, Texas and Georgia.