Health Canada concerned as scooter injuries rise

By Andrea Cardillo

Kyle McGregor asked his mom for a scooter for his fifth birthday this past June, like many young children have, since scooters became increasingly popular a year ago.

McGregor is not allowed to ride on the street without parental supervision, says his mother, Katrina Mallette.

“If it’s in the front yard he can go out on the sidewalk but if it’s out on the road then I’m with him,” she says.

She also insists that McGregor wears a helmet while riding his scooter.

According to Health Canada, scooter injuries have been on the rise and it is taking a closer look at safety issues.

Noticing a trend in scooter-related injuries last spring, Health Canada conducted a study and released a set of recommendations, on September 7, for better scooter safety

Health Canada’s recommendations are meant to alert the public of why most scooter accidents occur and how best to prevent them, says Andrew Swift, media representative for Health Canada.

“These are common sense recommendations that we thought needed to be made public.”

Swift adds that of the 305 scooter injuries studied, most injuries were not due to a defect in the product, but rather misuse of it.

“We haven’t come up with new rules regarding this product,” Swift says. “These are suggestions to consumers and parents.”

Health Canada’s recommendations include always wearing a certified helmet, elbow and kneepads, checking all fasteners before riding, and parental supervision for children under eight years old.

Carlton Braithwaite, a manager at Sports Experts in the Rideau Centre, says that most people who buy scooters are parents coming in for their children and safety equipment is rarely sold at the time of purchase.

“We would recommend it,” Braithwaite says. “It just seems to be an afterthought.”

Braithwaite adds that when a customer purchases a scooter, which range in price from $50-$250, they receive a discount on safety equipment at the time of purchase as an incentive to wear proper protective gear.

Melodie Johnston, a sales representative at Foster’s Sports Centre on Bank Street, says she’s noticed a trend toward bigger scooters with hand-operated brakes, which are easier to control.

Sgt. Mike Murphy of the Ottawa Police, says that common sense must be used when you are riding a scooter and you must take as many precautions as you can to protect yourself.

“It’s also incumbent on the parents to make sure children are riding these scooters in a safe manner and in a safe place,” Murphy says.

“A lot of kids are concerned with having a good time and sometimes they don’t think about the ramifications of riding in the middle of the street.”

“Safety is paramount so I wouldn’t recommend riding one down Elgin Street,” Murphy says.

“I would recommend that children ride them in their laneways, schoolyards or on bike paths,” he adds.