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When it comes to outrunning the cops on the highway, a wheelchair probably isn’t the best vehicle to use. (Note, BodyShop Business would never condone leading police on chase, unless of course you were being pursued by Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrain, or you just didn’t want a ticket). But for an elderly man in London last November, being pulled over by the police meant not having to roll down his window.
On Tuesday, Nov. 14, British police became involved in a low-speed chase after an elderly man’s electric wheelchair inadvertently joined the busy M25 motorway that circles London. Now in most nations, busy freeways aren’t the best places for wheelchairs – occupied or not. And England is no exception. So when surprised and amused motorists saw the gentleman’s situation, many of them used their cell phones to call the police.
“We had reports of a man in an electric wheelchair traveling between junctions 25 and 26, but he had gotten down to junction 27 by the time he was intercepted by police,” a police spokewoman told Reuters wire service.
Like a lot of people who get pulled over, the “motorist” didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong. And as he tried to talk himself out of a ticket, he began to resemble a lawyer armed with little more than legal mumbo jumbo and technicalities. He told police that as a member of the British Automobile Association (AA), his wheelchair was covered by his membership policy, implying that coverage meant he could use the device on the roads.
But the association says otherwise. “Strictly speaking, his vehicle wasn’t actually covered,” AA spokeswoman Rebecca Rees says. “We do have a special breakdown package for people with electric wheelchairs, but he had normal AA roadside assistance coverage [that didn’t cover his situation].” (This isn’t to say that the “special” wheelchair coverage allows you to participate in all the fun of rush hour.)
Despite his limited coverage, the AA was kind enough to help the man out. Says Rees: “Because he was in such a vulnerable position on the hard shoulder of the motorway, a disabled driver in rush hour, we managed to get someone to come along and take him home.”
Writer Mike Lawrence is associate editor of BodyShop Business.