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.
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.
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.
Comfort and support are essential and battery range is important if using all day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These are some of the organisations which provide useful information and advice
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.
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.
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.
Many people on foot will be kind and helpful to drivers of a wheelchair/scooter. But not everyone!
Do not try to climb or descend kerbs higher than the manufacturer recommends. Move carefully, to avoid traumatic bumps – to yourself or your vehicle.
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.
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.
You must observe the law about:
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.
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.