If you are new or have been using a mobility scooter for a long time, you must ensure your safety. Such a mobility device should not cause you harm but should focus on safety and help with your mobility issues.
So before you use your mobility scooter, you must understand and apply the tips I will share with you for safe and orderly driving.
Choose the best scooter for you
Choosing the right and appropriate mobility scooter for you is the foremost among the safety measures that need to be considered. Before you buy a scooter, it is essential to seek your doctor, physiotherapist, or occupational therapist’s guidance to ensure that it conforms to your mobility needs. There are criteria based on your capabilities that need to be assessed: hand and eye coordination, balance, eyesight, strength, and concentration. In consulting them, you need to be honest with your condition because otherwise, the scooter will only bring you problems.
In choosing the right scooter for you, please do not rush to buy it. You have many options but keep in mind that not all are well made and suitable for you. Some salespeople and marketers are more interested in selling their product than offering better quality for their consumers. On the other hand, some suppliers allow you to try different scooters before you buy them.
Remember, three-wheel scooters are designed to be used more effectively in crowded areas or indoors, while the four-wheel type is for uneven terrain or outdoor. You need to make sure that the scooter you buy is appropriate because it will only lead to severe injuries if misused. To help you better choose a suitable mobility scooter for you, I recommend that you read this.
Maintain proper maneuvering
Go through curb cuts, driveways, and ramps straight and steady. Make sure you are always in the middle of the curb cut and not on the sideways to avoid tip over.
When driving, avoid the following:
- Tall trees
- Unstable gravel and sand
- Driving on inclines and ramps
- Tracks and crossings near the railroad
- Uneven terrain and soft surfaces
- Wet roads, or those near the canal, river, or ocean
- Anywhere you are uncomfortable.
Inclines and ramps are among the above mentioned because many cities and states have strict regulations on-ramps construction, while these regulations do not apply elsewhere. Artificial or natural ramps come in various shapes or sizes; these you may encounter depending on the area.
Ramps have this part called “switchbacks,” these are about 180 degree turns located in the middle of a ramp or incline so you can shift back to the other direction and continue climbing. Sometimes they are crowded and challenging. Practice cornering maneuvers timely before you reach the switchback and keep your driving speed as low as possible with the front wheels so that the rear wheels can follow.
When driving uphill, always remember that your scooter has maximum performance specifications on how steep the slope your scooter can handle. Keep moving as straight as you can to maintain your center of gravity. If your driving direction is unstable, it will significantly impact your balance, which will result in tipping your scooter or falling.
On the downhill, you also need to maintain your center of gravity properly by driving straight and stable. Also, keep your running at a sufficient speed. If you are not sure of your speed, release the throttle, let the scooter stop, and start rerunning it.
Your scooter has a manual that will tell you its limitations and as much as you can avoid overdoing it because otherwise, it will result in a lack of control and fall. To be safe, avoid curbs that are 2 inches or 5 cm high. These can be considered big bumps on your scooter as well.
So again, go straight to the curb, have a moderate and controllable speed before the rear wheels go through the obstacle, then increase the speed slightly when the rear wheels pass the bump.
Be aware of your area and surroundings
Be familiar with the trails and surroundings of your area and be prepared and remember the paths where there are curbs, especially those without curb cuts, and be aware of the streets without sidewalks. Avoid or increase caution in these areas. Also, be prepared for people leaving the establishments and keep a close eye on vehicles entering, exiting, pulling out of parking and driveways.
Plan alternative routes for unforeseen circumstances, such as construction, natural road damage, and more. In these cases, you can cross the street, retract or take another route, but be careful of slippery and icy pavements, especially on roads. But keep in mind that mobility scooters are for sidewalks and bicycle paths, so avoid restless highways or public streets as much as possible. Just stay on the footpaths, but if there are no footpaths available, make sure you are visible. More about self-visibility later.
If you use it in crowded places like inside your home, be aware of stairs and sharp objects or corners. If you plan to use your scooter only in these areas, get a more compact, lighter, and three-wheel scooter with a small turning radius. To avoid accidents, make sure you are at the same speed as the people around you.
If it is unavoidable to use your scooter on the roads, beware of large vehicles because of their size; even if they reduce their speed, it can still affect your balance and confuse you. Others often ignore these types of mobility devices. Do not cross the road if you are not in a pedestrian lane because crossing the middle of the road can confuse other drivers or even a collision. If it is not an accident for you, it will be an accident with other motorists.
Make sure you are visible at all times
When you travel with your scooter, you have a height disadvantage to other passers-by or using roads and sidewalks. When driving your mobility scooter, do not immediately assume that you will be seen by other drivers or pedestrians, as they may be busy for any reason. So make sure you or your scooter has the following:
- Bright colors or reflective clothing
- Lights on the front of the scooter
- Light on the back of the scooter
- Orange bike flag on the back of the scooter
- Reflective strips on all corners and sides of the scooter
It would be best if you are visible at all times. Let all road users know your presence.
Be prepared for any unexpected events
There are times when circumstances occur unexpectedly. Thus preparation for such situations is crucial.
Always make sure you have a mobile phone or any device capable of making calls. Make sure that your mobile phone has enough charge, with active GPS or any GPS tracker, with emergency phone numbers saved. But keep your valuables like a handbag, mobile phone, and wallet out of sight. In case you are unable to use your mobile phone at the time of the accident, get the passers-by’s attention to call for help like 911 for emergency assistance. Also, do not forget to bring a spare tube in a situation where you will need to pump your tires.
You can also invest in a medical alert system. Using this alert system, you can quickly call for help by simply pressing a button.
Learn how to use your scooter properly
Every scooter has its limitations and you should not try to exceed them. There are scooters available only on pavement or footpaths. At the same time, there are some designed to use on roads and tough terrain. In pavements, the maximum speed is four mph and eight mph on the road. If your scooter can run on the roads when it comes to pavements, limit your speed to 4mph. Four mph is slow but not so slow; when it comes to cramps, crowded places, bumps, and unfamiliar tracks, you need to run even slower.
You must know how to use a mobile scooter properly. Spend enough time to master it. In your practice, find an isolated area or parking lot with enough space. Ensure that you know how to steer, go backward, turn around, climb up and down curbs. Keep your speed controllable and learn safe turning and cornering. Also, check if your scooter’s seat is comfortable and if it is easier for you to control the scooter because of it. The center of your seat is also where your center of gravity is; it is responsible for avoiding tip-overs.
Three-wheel or four-wheel models can be tipped over when you misuse them. Keep all your wheels on the ground at all times. Approach curbs and bumps head-on/straight-on or no angle to maintain your center of gravity, giving you a good balance. When turning, do it slowly and do not put your steering wheel in full lock.
Pay enough attention to the throttle, avoid accidentally engaging and taking it by surprise. It is dangerous for you and the people around you. When the scooter is running or while you are steering and controlling its speed, it has two modes:
Freewheel Mode: This is the mode for manual maneuverability by you or your instructor. In this mode, the braking system is not active, making it easy to push and guide.
Things to keep in mind when your scooter is in freewheel mode:
Return it to drive mode to lock the brakes again before leaving the scooter, or if you are a trainer
Do not use freewheel mode on incline or decline
Do not use freewheel mode without someone present to continue operating it when you get off the scooter.
Push-Too-Fast Mode: It is a mode where your scooter can avoid gaining too much speed or losing control. It can prevent your scooter from exceeding its limit.
Keep operating your scooter with both hands at all times. One-hand driving is not advisable and safe.
When you think you are comfortable using your scooter, and you think you can drive your scooter safely outdoors, try to find a companion with or without his/her scooter with you for your few trips.
Obey the rules
When it comes to the law, a person using a motorized scooter can be considered a pedestrian. It merely means that it must follow a pedestrian’s rules in operating his scooter on the roadway. As a pedestrian, keep your speed equal to pedestrians’ walking speed. Maintain a four mph or sometimes even lower rate to ensure your safety and that of the people around you.
- Traffic rules vary depending on the area or state. The following are some of these guidelines:
- Follow all traffic control signs and devices.
- Cross the pedestrian crosswalks. But apply, stop, look and listen.
- If there are no pedestrian crosswalks, be more alert, again stop, look and listen. Only cross when vehicles are at the full stop.
- Use sidewalks as much as possible. If there are no sidewalks or do not have curb cuts, approach the far left side of the road facing traffic.
- Make eye contact with motorists or pedestrians before crossing so that you can confirm that they are aware of you or the situation. Most of the time, when they do not look at you even though they know you will cross, it is better to wait for them to pass by.
- Wear your helmet.
- Never drive a scooter when you are under the influence of alcohol anywhere.
For complete guidelines such as those mentioned above, it is crucial to check it with your area’s road traffic authority.
Respect and be aware of pedestrians
Remember, pedestrians have the right of way, which means you should always consider giving it to them. Be aware of children who may not be aware of you or people who may not see you for any reason. Once you get used to it, driving on a crowded sidewalk will become seamless.
Slow down your speed and give a polite signal such as a gentle horn sound before you pass your fellow pedestrians. If you are considerate with your fellow pedestrians, they will provide you with the same approach.
Regularly maintain and check your scooter
Make it a habit to maintain your scooter regularly. Before you ride or drive a scooter, you should always check its tires and lights regularly. Make sure the tires have the right pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Whenever possible, replace the tires when they are thin. Also, replace the bulbs that are no longer working and use the lights as needed. For more reliable and best service, consult a professional technician to ensure that your scooter is in good condition.
Be prepared for difficult weather situations
Be prepared for any weather situation. Wear warm clothes with a waterproof top layer. If you are not going to use your scooter throughout the winter months, make sure its battery has enough charge. It is not advisable to drain the battery for an extended time. If you use it outdoors during winter, protect it with a waterproof cover because the damp can have a complication with the scooter’s electronic parts.
Maintain the proper weight of the scooter
Keeping your scooter in the right weight is very important. If it’s too heavy, you will have difficulty controlling it. So in getting a mobility scooter, consider your weight, oxygen tank, shopping bags, and other items you think you will regularly take on your scooter.
Most importantly, do not overload your scooter. It’s a no-no. Remember, handlebars are for steering and not for storage. Placing your bag or anything on the handlebar make your driving unstable. Also, do not put decorations that may affect or interfere with your scooter. If you want comfort, so does your scooter.
The proper condition of the scooter is worthless if the driver is not capable of driving it. Before you start driving your scooter, first assess whether you are suffering from any illness, recent accident, dizziness, etc. It is vital to consult a doctor to determine if you can drive a scooter with your current condition or if some scooter modifications are needed to ensure your safety.
Are mobility scooters safe?
Remember that a mobility scooter can cause considerable damage. If you ride a mobility scooter, you are responsible for your own and other people’s safety. As with all types of vehicles, this requires extra care when using it at all times. Whether it is safe to use or not depends on how you use it.
Do mobility scooters tip over?
There are mobility scooters with an anti-tip device located behind the rear wheels. This prevents the scooter from tipping backward when you climb the slope especially if the slope is steeper. Your manufacturer can adjust its angle to prevent you from touching the curb.
Can mobility scooters go uphill?
There are mobility scooters designed for steeper slopes. Some of these scooters are also capable of handling up to 10-degree slopes thanks to their lithium-powered 120W battery pack and lightweight frame.
What do you do if your mobility scooter breaks down?
You can ask your fellow pedestrians for help. Or if you can walk even a few distances, go to a shop or any establishment where you can make a call or pay a phone to use. So it is important that you also have contacts for technicians for such situations.
Why does my mobility scooter keep stopping?
This can be the effect of running out of battery or defective battery. The age of the battery is often the cause of its rapid depletion. The longer the battery age, the less power it can store.
Can you take a mobility scooter out in the rain?
Yes. You can use your mobility scooter in the rain. Just make sure to run it slower and with extra caution. In situations where you have to go through a torrential downpour, you protect or cover yourself and the electrical controls of the scooter.
How much weight can a mobility scooter hold?
Lightweight scooters are designed to carry the rider weighing 250 – 350 pounds. Large scooters weigh 350 pounds or more. It also includes additional durability and support.
Can you overcharge a mobility scooter?
As much as possible do not overcharge your battery. Usually, mobility scooter batteries are fully charged within 8hrs. Don’t charge it overnight. If unavoidable be sure to remove it from the charger in the morning when it is full.
How do you check a mobility scooter battery?
First, press or push the levers. Make sure it is on a flat surface for better checking. Notice the LED lights or needle, if it decreases quickly when you start moving it means your battery is weak or not in good condition anymore. Consider replacing it.
Why is the green light flashing on my mobility scooter?
If the charging indicator is green, it means its battery is full. It is necessary to disconnect its battery to prevent overcharge. If the indicator is blinking or flashing from red to green, it means that there is an electrical problem in the battery pack.
A mobility scooter as a mobility aid helps people with disabilities and mobility issues to become independent and have a connection with their loved ones, friends, and community. Thus, it should be operated correctly, carefully, and safely.
So as you can see, there are many things to keep in mind when using, operating, and to maintain your scooter in good condition. I hope the tips I have given you here will help you to have comfortable trips and the necessary precautions to drive your scooter safely for you, the people around, and your scooter as well.