A mobility scooter can be extremely useful in helping disabled individuals get around. For some, it’s essential. Without it, they might be confined to their homes, or even their beds, with no way to go about their everyday lives without help. A mobility scooter gives them back their independence and allows them to have more freedom.
But it’s important to remember that a mobility scooter should be driven with caution. These tips will keep you or your loved one safe while operating a mobility scooter.
Find the Right Scooter
Every scooter functions differently, so you need to consult your doctor and supplier to determine the best scooter for your needs. Once you find the perfect one, you need to learn all about it, including how to operate and maintain it. Nothing wears down a scooter more than using it improperly, so do your research about how to take proper care of it.
Use Sidewalks When Possible
Sometimes, it’s easier to use the roadway. Sidewalks may be too narrow, and not all roads even have them. However, it’s always best to use the sidewalk whenever possible, since doing so is much safer than risking your life trying to navigate among large cars. Riding your scooter on the sidewalk will keep it in better condition that driving it through the streets will. If you do need to cross the street, use crosswalks whenever possible.
Research Before Traveling
If you are going somewhere you haven’t been before, it’s important to get an idea of the surroundings ahead of time. This way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises, such as inaccessibility or ramps that are difficult to use. You don’t want to arrive at your destination, only to discover that you have no way to get around.
Remember, a mobility scooter is a moving vehicle, just like an automobile. You should exercise caution when operating your scooter, just as you would if you were driving a car.
Always drive slowly and carefully, especially if you are on a sidewalk with other people. When you drive, stay on the right and pass on the left. Be cautious when passing and make sure there aren’t pedestrians behind you who might be put in harm’s way.
Scooter On, Phone Off
Distracted driving can affect scooter users just as much as automobile drivers. It’s best to behave as if you were behind the wheel of a powerful car or truck. If your phone rings, don’t answer it while operating your scooter. Either call them back later or pull over to take the call. This will improve safety for both you and pedestrians.
Have a Horn or Bell
Courtesy is important when you are sharing a sidewalk with pedestrians. Most scooters have a horn or bell, and if yours doesn’t, you can find one at an affordable price to add to the scooter. Use it often, though not incessantly, to warn others when you are behind them or passing.
Reserve Your Scooter for Local Trips
When you take trips, taking your scooter with you is not the best idea. The scooter may become damaged, or it may get stolen or lost. Don’t risk losing your scooter and needing to purchase a new one (which your insurance may or may not cover).
The better option is to rent a scooter at your destination. Don’t go for just any scooter; rent the same model that you have at home or at least something similar, so that you don’t need to learn how to operate a brand new scooter.
Secure Your Scooter
Don’t assume that your scooter will be safe when you leave it outside a store for a few minutes. Anyone looking for a joy ride or fast cash will be happy to get ahold of it so easily. Alarms will keep most people away, and locks and wheel clamps will deter the more persistent thieves
You may think you know how to use a ramp – just drive toward it, right? Wrong. If you approach a ramp at even a slight angle, your scooter could tip over, injuring you and damaging the scooter.
Always approach the ramp head-on and drive as straight as you can. This will allow you to safely and smoothly use the ramp. The same method should be used to cross curbs, though it’s best to avoid crossing curbs whenever possible.
Try to Avoid Obstacles
Your scooter may look like it can handle any rough terrain, but its best not to test those limits. Broken pavement and rocks can damage the tires and make the scooter unstable, which could cause you to.
tip over. Try to avoid these obstacles as much as possible to prevent damage and injuries.
Practice Before Using the Scooter in Public
You don’t want to learn how to use your scooter when you’re around pedestrians and other drivers. It’s best to practice before your first trip so you know exactly how to operate the controls and drive the scooter safely.
Stay Visible with Reflective Strips and Lights
Never assume that other drivers can see you; always make yourself seen. Reflective strips and bright lights will people notice you at night. Don’t go for just one, though – use reflective strips on each side and rows of lights for maximum visibility.
Maintain It Properly
Proper maintenance is crucial for extending the lifetime of your scooter, just as it would be for a car or other vehicle. Keep the scooter charged, check the tires, and have it serviced if you notice a problem, no matter how minor. If you wait until the problem gets worse, you might find yourself unable to use the scooter until you get it fixed.
Don’t Weigh It Down
It may be necessary to carry certain items with you, such as oxygen or a cane to help you walk when you arrive at your destination. But make sure that the things you carry on your scooter are actually necessary. Added weight weighs down the scooter and make it more difficult to operate, and a scooter that is harder to maneuver is more likely to tip over.
Avoid Steep Slopes
Slopes that are too steep for your scooter will overwork it, leading to overheating and possibly power failure. This will either leave you stranded or cause you to dangerously roll backwards down the hill. Find out if there are slopes on the streets you plan to drive on, and find the one with the gentlest slope to get you to your destination safely.
Make Every Trip a Safe One
Though a mobility scooter will help you go about your daily life and explore new things and places, it can be dangerous if not operated properly. These tips will help you stay safe when using your scooter. It will also help you protect others, such as pedestrians sharing the sidewalk with you, and it will hopefully increase the lifetime of your scooter by lessening damage and wear.