Mobility scooters are a boon for people with walking difficulties. It reduces your dependency on loved ones or caretaking professionals. It gives a real sense of freedom. The best part is that you can use it outside your house. You could go shopping, and even go on a cruise trip or enjoy a resort. In your home, it is a tool for moving around, but once in the street, you have to be extra cautious and responsible for your safety and that of others on the road. Following are the essential steps that one needs to adhere to for staying safe while traveling in a mobility scooter:
1. It should be the right choice:
One should get professional advice before buying a scooter. You should get an assessment from the occupational therapist and get a vehicle of appropriate size, weight, and height. You should always ask for a test drive and ensure that you can navigate easily and are not stressing yourself while using it. Be familiar with the instruction manual and check if the scooter is suitable for an uneven surface. Follow the safety tips given, while navigating bumps and curves. Check if your mobility scooter can handle ramps and steep surfaces. Here the chance of falling is more, so you have to be very careful. You can go for training courses in case you have not been on the road for a while. It is a must if you go for powered scooters with speed controls. Buy a mobility scooter with safety elements like lights, reflectors, and flags. You should be easily noticeable by others on the road, and you should avoid places with broken pavements.
2. Follow traffic rules:
It is necessary to remember that a mobility scooter is not your bike or car. So, the driving speed should not be more than 10 kilometers per hour while on the road, and at footpaths, it should not exceed 4 km/hour. You should leave a way for pedestrians and bicycles. When you park the vehicle, you should not block the pathway. Also, while parking, you should ensure that you turn it off and apply brakes before getting down. Do not use mobile phones as you drive and do not keep anything on your lap too. These might distract you and could cause collisions. Take time to slow down and do not apply breaks suddenly. Do not use bus lanes and cycling tracks. Obey traffic rules, signal instructions, and have the headlights and rear lights on at night.
3. Keep the scooter in good operating condition:
You should get the mobility scooter services annually. You should always be aware of the maximum and minimum operating speed of the vehicle and never cross the speed limits. One should check the lights and the tires regularly. Have additional racks and storage facilities, and never use the handlebars as hangers. You should not overload the vehicle. Most mobility scooters are for a single person, so never have a pet or kid along with you. Do not have a tiller to close to your stomach as it might hinder steering. Always have an adequate charge in your scooter/ batteries and have a backup plan in case of a breakdown. Check if the folding mechanism works properly and always use a scooter lift while carrying it in the car.
4. Be prepared for weather conditions:
In winters, you should avoid going out in the scooter when there is snow. If you have to, then be slow, wear a high visibility jacket and install safety lights both in the front and the rear sides. Check if the wheels offer good traction on the icy surface. You should keep the tires inflated and always check the air levels before going out. Do not use the scooter if you feel sick. You should have enough warm clothes to bear the cold. Charge the battery fully, as the vehicle draws more power during winter. It is better to have rain protection parts and sun shields too. Always dry the device and keep it clean to avoid rusting and jamming of the inner parts.
5. Let health be your priority:
Prolonged sitting could result in the formation of blood clots, so you should be able to stand on the scooter and move your ankles up and down. You should buy a scooter with armrests and a sturdy seat. The seat should let you sit straight, and you should not lean forward or sideways. You can have vehicles with a cane holder so that you could get a cane to all places and do some walking as and when you can. Also, you should not consume alcohol and even medicines that make you feel drowsy before driving the scooter. You should always plan your trip and go for the safest route and not the shortest way.
6. Register and Insure:
In most places, battery-driven or electrically charged powered mobility scooters require registration and licensing. Please follow the local government’s guidelines to fulfill the legal requirements. Mobility scooters are costly, and repairing them is also expensive. So it is necessary that you have an insurance cover for situations like fire, theft, and damage. You can even have breakdown insurance that helps you reach home if the vehicle halts all of a sudden.
Mobility scooters provide you the much-required freedom, but you should always seek medical advice before buying it. If you have had surgery, then you should aim to recover and remove the dependency on walking aids. You should take all precautions and ride safely in your scooter.