Mobility scooters have restored the living conditions of a countless number of ailing, aged or handicapped people. This device has helped people who have not been able to travel far without help, to acquire a remarkable level of freedom.
It also helps those who are immobile or elderly people to battle against being socially reclusive and other health issues. Possession of a mobility scooter does not need a person to pre-plan a trip to the shop or to meet a friend. It’s very easy to carry out your daily chores or even go on an expedition. It is so easy to hop on your scooter and be on your way to where ever you need to be.
In the event you are thinking of purchasing a mobility scooter for yourself or a loved one, some options have to be considered. In this guide, the questions to be asked before finally choosing a scooter is outlined. A rough idea of the different types of mobility scooters and the features that help to find the correct scooter is also provided.
What is a Mobility Scooter?
Mobility scooters have been manufactured for people who find it difficult to walk long distances due to a disability or a health problem but are capable of operating a small vehicle. With the improvement of the design and battery life, mobility scooters have become a popular mobility aid to a greater extent and frequently seen in shopping malls and even payments.
There are various types of scooters available in the market. The small models can fit into your car boot and the heavy duty mobility scooters are able to climb steep hills and travel up to 50 km distance on a single charge.
Is a Mobility Scooter the right thing for you?
Choosing to use to not to use a mobility scooter is due to many reasons and finally, it will be due to a family or personal decision. When a person has difficulty to drive, a mobility scooter can be of assistance to take the place of the motor vehicle. Although there can be a problem when it comes to road safety, you have to build courage, confidence, and ability to operate the mobility scooter. The low speeds and ease of use render less risky to the users in comparison to a car.
A mobility scooter can also be used in combination with other types of transport. For example, the folding mobility scooter can be taken out in the boot of the car for use around a shopping mall or short excursions.
A person recovering from an injury or surgery could get temporary assistance from a mobility scooter.
Judging whether the user has the ability and confidence to operate a mobility scooter or any other aid assisting device is the most important thing to consider when choosing a mobility scooter. Although using this device lets a person to continuously maintain independence without tiring and exerting the physic too much, the user should be able to get on and off the scooter without help and operate it taking the safety of self, other pedestrians, and road users into consideration.
Firstly, the best idea will be to speak to your occupational therapist about your ability to operate a scooter. They are the best judges as they are capable of understanding your physical requirements and discuss how to make full use of it and get about your day.
You have to learn to operate it safely before planning on venturing into shopping or visiting family etc.
Learning to operate
The following have to be mastered.
- Operating the hand controls to turn left and right
- Turning your head to look for pedestrians and traffic
- Have a good vision and hearing to be conscious of the environment.
- Be alert to respond quickly and confidently to unpredictable situations.
- Being able to concentrate on the whole duration of the trip.
- Being able to balance on an uneven terrain or a slope.
In addition, you should be able to get on and off the scooter without any help, and walk a little unaided or with a walking aid.
When choosing a folding mobility scooter or a small scooter that can be dismantled, keep in mind whether you can lift into a car or you’ll need help and if they too will be able to lift it.
Considering the wide range of mobility scooters in the market, it is very easy to find a model that fits your budget requirements. However, the availability of a larger collection can sometimes make you difficult to decide what the correct device is for you. Therefore, it is important to actually to think the reason for using the device and then select a scooter accordingly.
Is a small scooter required to get around inside your home or at the shopping mall? Or is it to get around to the local shop or visit your friend’s home? On second thought, do you need something stronger that can take the place of a car to travel a little further away from home?
Your residential domain and landscape have also to be considered. A small scooter can easily move around flat ground surface but if you are a residing in a mountainous area or not a flat surface, a more powerful scooter will be required to avoid being stranded.
It is also important to take note of your own physical appearance. Small scooters have smaller seats and footrests, so, if you are on the heavy side, it is advisable to choose a model that will suit your weight and body frame.
These scooters can cover a range of 20kms. It is the best device to get around indoors and easily fits into your car boot. It is maneuverable and convenient.
It’s turning circle is smaller than usual which is useful when navigating it in crowded malls. Most of the small models are generally collapsible or could be dismantled for storage or to be taken while traveling and also checked on a flight as baggage.
However, the small scooters are fitted with a smaller battery which delivers less range per charge and the small wheels could be unsteady on rough terrain and also not equipped with much power to climb steep hills.
Attributes of A Small Mobile Scooter
- Could be easily dismantled for transport
- Easy to operate in a crowded area due to its small size.
- Smooth ride due to basic suspension.
- Detachable battery for travel.
- Rear and front LED lights for better vision.
- Basket for shopping in the front.
Medium sized scooters could also be considered as the best choice to be used for public transport. Although changes are limited, these scooters could be taken on any public transport that’s accessible to wheelchair.
Features of the medium-sized scooters
- Flat tire proof, wobbly tires for extra grip outdoors.
- LED lighting for front head light, tail light, and indicators for better vision.
- Basket for shopping in the front.
- Comfortable ride due to basic suspension.
- Padded armrests, headrests, and seat.
- View mirrors on the rear for extra safety.
Heavy duty mobility scooters are also known as large scooters which can cover a range of 25km to 50km. best suited to use on rough paths and long distances. The pneumatic rubber wheels and suspension provides a smooth ride. All models of these type of scooters are equipped with extra comfortable seats inclusive of padded head rests and arm rests.
Features of Heavy Duty Mobility Scooters
- Pneumatic tires for a trouble-free ride over uneven rough areas.
- Deluxe padding on the high top seat.
- Hydraulic braking system for greater control
- Full lighting structure inclusive of LED tail light, curb light, head light and indicators
- Large basket in the front for shopping
- Capacity to add more storage and accessories.
Operating your Scooter
It is advisable to first use your mobility scooter on a flat surface, a place where there isn’t any traffic and interference to get a grasp of the controls. Keep manoeuvering until you perfect the starting, stopping, turning and going up and down a pathway. Ensure you are fully aware of operating all the controls, adjusting the seating position, able to adjust seating position and confident of getting on and off the scooter without assistance.
Once the scooter is brought home, you will want to make sure you’ll be able to use it for a long period of time.
Think where you will store it when it is not in use. It could be kept inside if it’s small. Larger ones could be kept in a garage or porch. Wherever it’s parked, ensure to have easy access to a power point for charging in between uses.
Having an insurance cover to protect from theft or damage is also important. If your current insurance cover for your home does not include your mobility scooter, it can be added with an additional premium or a separate mobility scooter insurance could be obtained. Ensure the policy covers damage and theft of the scooter, as well as damage to property or other people.
In order to run well, the mobility scooter will be required to be serviced annually.
Charging the mobility scooter.
- The batteries have to be fully charged before each outing to get the most out of your mobility scooter.
- Before charging the scooter power switch has to be turned to the off position.
- Connect the charger to the charging port of the scooter and then plug the cord into a power outlet.
- When the scooter’s battery is fully charged, the light will change to green.
- As soon as the green light appears, disconnect the charger from the charging port and then from the power outlet.
- It takes approximately 8 to 10 hours to charge a mobility scooter. It is advisable to charge overnight to ensure it’s ready to be used on the next day.
It is advisable to check whether everything is properly secured and the battery is fully charged before heading out on a trip. Refrain from using your mobility scooter if you feel tired, sick or have been drinking anything intoxicating.
In order to be seen by traffic and other pedestrians while traveling outside, switch the lights of your mobility scooter on. An orange safety flag could also be added for better vision. Ensure not to overload the scooter with too many accessories or bags and whatever you carry should not obstruct your view or ability to use the controls.
Lastly, plan where you are going and if possible, avoid narrow pavements, busy road and cross the road at market pedestrian crossings or traffic lights.
Mobility scooters have been manufactured to ride on a footpath or anywhere else walkers can go. Since it is not considered as a motor vehicle, it is not permitted to travel on the road, except when crossing or when there is no footpath.
Normally, it is not necessary to register a mobility scooter as it is not considered as a motor vehicle. However, in Queensland, it is required to register with the Department of Transport and Main Roads if you hope to use it outside. Registration is free and includes third part party insurance.
It is always best to check the regulations in your state before purchasing a mobility scooter as rules may have changed.
Also, ensure you are knowledgeable of the road rules for pedestrians and fully aware where a scooter can and cannot be taken. Extra care has to be taken when traveling through shopping malls or when crossing roads without traffic lights or zebra crossing.
Public Transport and Mobility Scooters
As a common rule, mobility scooters are treated as wheelchairs or other assistance aids and allowed on public transport. It is important to plan your trip before you start out to be confident to get on and off your destination and allow extra time to get there.
When traveling by train, wait at the front of the platform where the first carriage stops and ensure the driver is able to see you to lower a ramp to get on and ask which station you are traveling to help you to disembark.
When traveling by bus or tram, check your route if any accessible services are offered. Sometimes if a request is made in advance, the operator may add an accessible service.
Whether tram or bus stop, ensure to stay where you are visible to the driver to enable him to extend a ramp to help you to get on the bus or tram. When disembarking, they will extend the ramp again.
Although restrictions change between states and transport, usually, all mobility aids including wheelchairs and scooters should have the following specifications
- Fit within a space of 1300mm in length and 800mm in width.
- Should not be more than 750mm wide.
- Maximum height should be 1500mm.
Although your mobility scooter will usually fit within these specifications, any added accessories like a flag or canopy could exceed it.