The Christmas period is now over, and normally has once again hit us, as everyone returns to work and school, but for the latter, it may be with an added excitement, perhaps a touch of trepidation, and even, for some, an increased risk.

There are many young people who were visited by Santa, the Three Kings, or both, bearing gifts that they had been longing for, in recognition of their goodness throughout the year. For some of those recipients, the gifts will have taken the form of transportation devices. We are of course talking about anything from a skateboard or a pushbike, to an electric scooter (Personal Mobility Vehicle).

For some of the older teens, the gift may have taken the form of an actual scooter or moped, or even a quadricycle, but whereas these devices require licences and insurance, as well as training, the vehicles at the other end, bicycles, and electric scooters, do not require any kind of formal training.

This, unfortunately, poses a problem for all road users, and a heightened risk for those on these particularly vulnerable vehicles. Local Police officers in places, and indeed members of N332, do carry out educational and awareness campaigns for young people, but these campaigns are informal and not mandatory. And so, the biggest problem we will now see is more people on the road using these vehicles, without knowing the rules of the road.

The riders cannot be exclusively blamed for riding down a one-way street the wrong way, or on a pavement or crossing, nor can they be exclusively blamed for cutting across a roundabout or not stopping at a junction, when they might well be totally oblivious to the rules. Of course, ignorance is no defence, and yes, they should take it upon themselves to learn the basics at least, and yes, the parents should also feel obliged in the interest of keeping their child safe, but the reality is that all too often this does not happen.

However, this note is in no way to try and shoulder blame on anyone, but rather to raise awareness of the increase in risk that these vulnerable road users face, because they are not protected by a strong metal shell but are exposed to the dangers that moving in traffic pose.

Therefore, please be aware of their vulnerability, whatever your personal opinion might be. Be patient, considerate, and, above all, give these vehicles the necessary space on the roads before and whilst you overtake. The minimum separation distance is set for a reason, safety, and it is mandatory.  

Yes, despite their perhaps ignorance, the users of these vehicles will face the consequences if they are found to be breaking the law, but so will an experienced, qualified and licenced driver, who should know better.

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