A mobility vehicle can definitely improve your lifestyle. No longer will you be confined to your home, reliant on others and unable to fully control your own life.

Making the right decision
The best way to ensure you make the right decisions is to see, and try, a wide range of models from different manufacturers., and visit their local showrooms. Here you can see a number of models, and make proper comparisons of size, comfort and handling. You will also meet and get to know their staff and your backup team. If you cannot visit, then book a home demonstration, and try the different products in and around your own home. Give yourself time and try to avoid rush decisions.
Making an informed choice 

Today it is increasingly common to see a scooter or power chair being used by people of all ages and abilities. People have now found out that these mobility vehicles are popular because without them they would be housebound, or restricted to only very limited distances, and that they are easy to control, economical to keep, and actually pretty good fun! 


However, deciding on which model to see and which company to buy from is very important, and can be difficult. You need to know that the product is suitable for all your needs, and that the company is a qualified and experienced supplier. You need to know that they will look after you and your vehicle, now and in the future. 


Points to ask: 
Scooters – How do I choose? 
There are many variations of scooter, offering differing features to suit you, the environment you live in, and the terrain you wish to cover. Here are some questions to discuss when considering your options:

The models offered come in many styles: the smaller offering easy manoeuvrability, and portability, but often with smaller wheels which will not go up kerbs or over rough ground. Small batteries restrict range (possibly down as low as 10 miles), however, they may be better for indoor or short journeys. Safe hands are there to guide you through the process and make sure all your questions are covered and offer you reassurance.

Note that dismounting and mounting kerbs with any mobility vehicle can be very bouncy, and for some people can be uncomfortable, but with the increased availability of dropped kerbs and pedestrian areas you should find the need for kerb climbing less necessary. 


Powerchairs – making the right choice 
Powerchairs are usually more difficult to select than scooters. Most of the aspects you would consider when buying a scooter still apply, but generally a powerchair user has more limitations to their personal mobility, and will probably be using their vehicle more regularly, often all day, and may depend on it in their home and outside. 

Comfort and support are essential and battery range is important if using all day. 


Points to ask: 
Is it a good idea to buy second hand? 
Buying a second hand scooter or wheelchair can be as difficult as buying a second hand car. But it is here that you will reduce the dangers if you buy from a reputable specialist. 
Training me to use my vehicle 

Safe Hands staff are keen to provide you with proper training to help you be in proper control and at ease with your newly found independence. 


So ask them to accompany you in and around your home, and out to your local shops and venues. Your mobility advisor will want you to feel confident so that you get the most pleasure and use from your new product.

Battery care 

Looking after and regularly charging your vehicle will increase its reliability and reduce its running costs. You must always read your owner’s manual and take particular note about how to charge the batteries. Battery charging uses about the same electricity as a 100 watt light bulb, so it won’t eat you out of house and home. 


Caring for my vehicle 

Your  mobility specialist will always discuss the long term needs of you and your vehicle. After years of extensive design and development these products have become more reliable and durable, and you should enjoy independence without worry. However, you must appreciate that with time, as with any mechanical product, components can go wrong. 


It is at these times it is most important that you have taken your local mobility specialists’ advice on regular servicing plans, extended guarantees and policies. If you are unfortunate enough to break down, you will realise why it was so important that you have a mobility specialist supply your mobility vehicle supported by factory trained and qualified service engineers, they will get you back on the road quickly and efficiently.
For years to come 

Looking after your mobility vehicle properly will help you ensure trouble free mobility. However, just like a car, you should expect to incur some running expenses for servicing and new batteries, for example. So we recommend putting a little aside each week to cover maintenance costs, or alternatively, investigating extended warranties, service contracts and insurance. 


We hope you enjoy your newly found freedom. 


Help is at hand 

These are some of the organisations which provide useful information and advice 


Motability is a scheme that lets you lease a mobility scooter, powered wheelchair or car using your benefits. They also run Motability One Big Day events where you can see and try out equipment. 
Telephone: 0300 456 4566 
Textphone: 0300 037 0100 
National Federation of Shopmobility UK 
If your local shopping centre or town centre has a Shopmobility Scheme, you can hire a scooter from them. Find out more from The National Federation of Shopmobility. 
Telephone: 01933 229644 

Publish independent test reviews on 10 smaller scooters on their subscription website. 
RICA (Research Institute for Consumer Affairs) 

Independent research charity providing free practical and detailed guidance for older and disabled consumers. Rica has an guidance on choosing a mobility scooter and a powered wheelchair, a search of measurements, features and details of over 400 powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters. 


Also Rica has information on rights and regulations for travelling on public transport including which mobility scooters can go on buses, trains and trams plus advice on car boot hoists and blog posts written by scooter users with practical tips and advice. 
Telephone: 020 7427 2460 
What is stability? 
Generally, for a wheelchair to remain stable, it must be upright on its wheels with the combined centre of mass of the wheelchair and user being within the wheelbase of the wheelchair. These guidelines should only be used in conjunction with the manufacturers owners’ manuals and instructions for safe use.
What affects stability? 
Ramps and slopes can present a high risk to users if they try to climb, descend or travel across slopes that are steeper than the safe working limit of the wheelchair. Appropriate gradients and surfaces should not cause problems if they are within the capability of the wheelchair. Wheelchairs should only be used on ramps or slopes that are less than the maximum safe slope specified by the manufacturer. 
Note: it is important to talk to your local retailer or supplier. They will give you good advice regarding capability and suitability of each wheelchair.
Wherever possible, wheelchairs should be tested on any slopes that will be used regularly. 
Steps, kerbs and soft ground 
When travelling up, down or across a slope, contact with relatively small obstacles can cause instability leading to tipping or sliding. Hitting obstacles can also cause the seated occupant to slide forwards or fall forwards out of the wheelchair. Use on soft ground can lead to similar problems, as small or narrow wheels tend to sink into the ground. Negotiating kerbs or steps should be undertaken following the manufacturers’ instructions, but always try to use dropped kerbs and ramps where possible. 
The addition of some seat cushions can raise the centre of gravity of the wheelchair and reduce the stability of the wheelchair in all directions. The addition of a backrest cushion will move the centre of gravity forward, improving rearward stability but decreasing forward stability. 
Seating systems 
Seating units fitted into wheelchairs, tilting seating units or reclining backrests can have similar effects on stability to the addition of cushions, by moving the user upwards and possibly forwards or rearwards within the wheelchair compared to the original seating position. This will affect stability in all directions. 
Added weight 
The attachment of accessories or other items such as shopping bags, ventilators or oxygen cylinders hung or positioned on the rear of the wheelchair will move the combined centre of gravity of the user and wheelchair rearward. This may not cause problems on level ground, but it can make the wheelchair unstable when climbing a slope or ramp. Never carry passengers.
User body movement 
The stability forwards, rearwards and sideways can be reduced by the user moving their upper body or by leaning out to operate switches or pick something up. However, rearward stability can be improved when climbing slopes if the user can lean forward.
In some cases the wheelchair will slide down a slope with its brakes applied or tip if it is nearing its limit of stability. Users and carers should be fully aware of the correct method of operation of all the brakes on their wheelchair, and that the effectiveness of brakes can be reduced when the wheelchair approaches its stability limits. Keep tyres inflated to the manufacturers recommended pressures.
Anti-tip devices 
Can be added to the front or rear of some wheelchairs to give physical restriction to the amount of tipping that can occur. It is essential that any anti-tip device will have sufficient strength to function correctly when the wheelchair is carrying its maximum user mass on the steepest intended slope.
Rear wheel positions 
To improve rearward stability, some wheelchairs have the option of moving the rear axle mount backwards. This could be part of an adjustable mounting or a fixed position further rearward than standard. Rear axle mounts can also be moved forward to improve the manoeuvrability and allow easier tipping to climb kerbs, but it is critical to strike the appropriate compromise between instability and ease of propulsion.
Propulsion by motor 
The majority of powered wheelchairs now have the ability to programme the response of the control unit. Users should be aware that any sudden movement of the input device on a wheelchair programmed for fast acceleration can cause instability particularly on slopes or uneven ground. If this is a problem for a user, then the control unit should be re-programmed to lower acceleration settings.
Propulsion by hand 
The position of the axles is critical to the safe operation of the wheelchair and any sudden or violent movement can cause the wheelchair to become unstable when climbing, descending or traversing slopes.
Care should be taken in wet or icy weather, particularly on sloping pavements or vehicle run-ups, as wheelchairs tend to slide to the lowest point.
Lack of maintenance or poor maintenance can lead to the wear or failure of components that may cause the wheelchair or the user to change position unexpectedly. This could lead to the user falling from the wheelchair or tipping over with the wheelchair. Manufacturer maintenance instructions should be adhered to. Always use a qualified technician to service or repair the wheelchair. See also BHTA leaflet ‘Get wise to getting more from your battery’. 
If the wheelchair is approved by the manufacturer for transportation by a seated person, make sure that you use the wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint system approved by the manufacturer. If you are using large public buses or trains, use the dedicated wheelchair space and any restraint systems provided. 

Why should we have a Highway Code for electric scooters and wheelchairs

Mobility products are divided in Class 2 and Class 3 vehicles. Class 2 are limited to up to 4 mph and in general are designed for pavement use. Class 2 mobility products have a maximum speed of up to 8 mph for road use, but have a switch to reduce the maximum speed to 4 mph so they can also be used on a pavement. Where pavements does not exist you may have to use the road until you can return to a pavement at the first opportunity. 

Driven safely mobility products can give people freedom and independence, in the wrong hands they can do considerable damage to property an other pedestrians. 

Which Highway Code category do wheelchair/scooter drivers come into? 

The categories of road users in the Highway Code are pedestrians, cyclists, motor cyclists and motorists. As a wheelchair/scooter user you don’t really fit any of these categories. You may however partly fit any of them. 

Road or footpath? 

Some wheelchairs/scooters can only be driven safely on the road. This does not always make it safe to do so. To drive safely on the road it is advisable to have a Class 3 vehicle capable of doing 6/8 miles an hour, equipped with headlights, rear lights, flashing indicators and a horn. Even with all this you may not use dual carriageways unless you also have an additional flashing beacon light and you are not permitted to use bus lanes or cycle tracks. 

Under NO circumstances is it permissible for scooters or wheelchairs to be driven on motorways. 

General points to consider before buying your vehicle 
Make sure you are able and fit to use it safely. 
It is usually possible to get advice through your local Social Services or Occupational Health Service and your doctor. You need to be able to: 
It is important to talk through your requirements with mobility specialist or talk to your therapist or healthcare professional if you need advice. This true even if you have driven a car previously, as it is very different from driving a scooter/wheelchair. 
At present there is no overall legal obligation about insurance, though some finance companies insist on it. Nevertheless it is a very good idea to make sure you are covered for fire and theft, accidental and malicious damage, and Third Party Damages – just in case. 
Comfort and Safety 
Make sure your vehicle is the right one for you. Get advice when choosing and watch for things like seat and handle positions and height. It is important you are comfortable and in full control of your vehicle. The reasons for choosing three or four wheeled vehicles are varied and depend on many factors such as your weight, size and height, weight of chair for lifting and quality of your roads. You need to be extremely careful when ascending and descending kerbs and when turning, as if this is not done carefully and properly the scooter will tip. 
The manufacturer’s literature and owners manual will tell you the range of your vehicle but remember this is a guide only. Generally they tell you the range if driven on the level on a smooth surface and when the batteries are new. Few people would want to drive round a smooth car park for 20-25 miles! Rough surfaces, hills, gradients, cold weather, kerbs and carrying a load of shopping will all reduce the distance you can do without charging your batteries. Recharge your batteries according to the manufacturers’ instructions. 
Do not be too ambitious where distance is concerned. Build up your experience and range gradually. 
Consider joining the AA or a similar organisation 
The AA has a special membership package for wheelchair/scooter users. They will not try to do road side repairs, but will get you and your vehicle home. Many mobility insurance packages include a Get you Home Service within their polices so it is worth discussing with your local specialist for advice. 
Consider investing in a mobile phone 
Some service providers will provide a special low rate for occasional users who need the phone for possible emergencies. Move Consider investing in a mobile phone to top of right hand column. 
Speed limits 
On the footpath the limit is 4mph (6.4kph) whatever the capacity of your vehicle. On the road it is 8mph (12.6kph). If driving a Class 3 vehicle on the pavement it must be switched to 4mph mode. 
Carrying loads 
Do not overload your mobility product. It may make the vehicle unstable and reduce its range. Place heavy loads inboard – in the middle – not behind the back wheel which can lighten the steering or can cause the front end to lift off the road on a bump, and not at the front which might make steering heavy. 
Watch your brakes 
Never try to drive, or even sit on your vehicle while it is in “free wheel”. The electronic brake will be out of action and the vehicle could run away with you. 
Do get your vehicle serviced regularly according to manufacturers’ advice. 
Keep tyres at the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. They will last longer and be safer. Replace when they become worn. 
Check bulbs regularly and replace when needed, use your lights frequently, at dusk onwards, on a dull or rainy day. 
Owners Manuals 
These are normally provided with all new mobility products and can give you good advice on how to use and maintain your vehicle. If buying second hand it is always worth trying to obtain
Sensible guidelines for safety 
When using the footpath – Just because you are on a footpath or pedestrian precinct does not make you a pedestrian. If you are on a motorised vehicle you are no longer a pedestrian. 
Remember pedestrians always have right of way! 

Many people on foot will be kind and helpful to drivers of a wheelchair/scooter. But not everyone! 


In a crowded precinct or market area, or footpath, it is your responsibility to ensure you do not run into anyone or do any harm with your vehicle. While many people will make way for you, you cannot expect everyone to do so. Some will appear to not even realise you are there. They will climb round and even over your vehicle rather than allow you room to move.  Make sure you have your vehicle is set to 4 mph if it is a Class 3 (6/8mph) product. 
Do not yield to the temptation to ram them! 
When climbing or descending kerbs – Always approach at right angles, with your front wheels straight on the kerb. In some power chairs it is necessary to descend high kerbs backwards. 

Do not try to climb or descend kerbs higher than the manufacturer recommends. Move carefully, to avoid traumatic bumps – to yourself or your vehicle. 
Watch our for 
Children – They may well run in front of you without warning. You may only be moving very slowly, but you could still injure a child. 
Elderly People – They may be unable to quickly move aside to let you pass. Give way to them. 
Disabled people on foot – Give them space and time. 
Other motorised vehicle users– You may be doing all the right things. This does not guarantee they will do likewise. 
When you need help 

You may need to ask people to open doors for you. I have found that most people are willing to help, if asked politely. Don’t struggle to do the impossible or even the very difficult things when there are people around who would help if asked.


Driving inside shops and buildings this is where you have the advantage over car users! Not many supermarkets would welcome a car driving round their store. But bigger shops and even some quite small ones are accessible to wheelchairs and scooters. 
Once inside the store it is your responsibility to drive safely and not damage the fittings, the stock, or hurt other shoppers or store workers. You may need to ask for help. Again in most cases people are willing if asked properly. Don’t risk pulling down a whole display to reach the top shelf. Ask for help. 
Speed in shops and buildings – Reduce it! 
It is a good idea to set the speed control to a lower level to avoid any accident. Be especially careful if you need to reverse, that your way is clear of shop fittings and people. Three wheeled scooters with their manoeuvrability and lightness of steering are more suited to shopping. 
On the road 

Remember you are not driving a car, but a very small and slow vehicle, which is therefore more vulnerable.

If it is possible, use the footpath. It is wise to avoid using roads, particularly busy ones.


When driving your vehicle on the road remember although this is legal for all vehicles it is not always safe or sensible to do so. You are responsible for your own safety and that of other road users. The normal rules of the road apply – but modified.

You must observe the law about: 
But always remember your vehicle is not a car and is small and vulnerable. 
If you need to turn right across traffic, try to get on to the footpath before the turn and then use a safe pedestrian crossing or traffic light control crossing. Only try to turn right if you are completely sure it is safe to do so. Do not rely on your mirror. It may give a false impression of distance. Always give clear indication of intention to turn left or right. 
Remember – The car you can see when you look behind may appear a long way away, but it is almost certainly moving faster than you are – often deceptively so. It could well be upon you before you complete your manoeuvre. And it may not be able to stop in time. 

When passing a parked vehicle – take great care you are not moving into the path of a faster moving vehicle coming behind you, or towards you. Always signal your intention to pull out. 


In the event of a difficult or dangerous situation – Use your hazard lights – But do not drive with them on unnecessarily. 
Be visible to other pedestrians and road users. 
When out and about on your mobility vehicle you can make your presence higher by wearing high visibility jackets or some other reflective wear. It is better to be seen and be safe. 


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