10 Points for Safe Mobility Scooter Use
Is there a driving test for mobility scooters before you can take one out on the road? It’s a very common question, especially amid the increasing numbers of scooter accidents.
The short answer is ‘no’. There isn’t a test for mobility scooter users. This then raises further questions on how you ensure your safety and the safety of others? To help, we’ve compiled 10 points for safe mobility scooter use. These are also applicable to electric powerchair users.
1. The Highway Code
Even though there is no legal requirement to pass a proficiency test before you take a mobility scooter or powerchair out, you should still have a good knowledge of the highway code. There are sections in the highway code that govern mobility scooters and powerchairs. Being familiar with these sections will also increase safe mobility scooter use.
2. General Use of Controls
It is important to understand the controls and know how they operate in order to use your mobility scooter correctly and safely. Read the instruction manual thoroughly to ensure that you are familiar with all the functions and how to properly operate your scooter.
Mobility Scooters have a throttle lever that is known as a ‘wig wag’. This allows you to either go forward or to reverse. It is a very simple control but it will take practise to get used to the action. When reversing, the scooter will make an audible beep to let others around you know that you will be reversing.
You will need to be familiar with how to control the speed of your scooter, where the horn is to alert others around you of your presence and where the lights and/or indicators are (if your scooter is equipped with these).
The better you know your scooter, the safer you will be for both yourself and others.
3. Use of Speed
Being aware of your speed and being in control of how fast you are travelling is one of the easiest ways to increase safe mobility scooter use.
All mobility scooters and powerchairs have a speed governor dial that allows you to control the speed you are travelling at. This is especially useful when negotiating certain routes and obstacles, varying conditions or crowded areas where there are pedestrians.
Be aware of going around corners to fast which could cause the scooter or powerchair to tip over or for you to lose control of the vehicle.
Class 2 scooters mobility scooters can be used on pavements and in shopping areas.
The maximum speed you can drive a mobility scooter on a pavement is 4mph.
Mobility scooters for the road are Class 3 vehicles. They can be driven on any roads, except motorways (or dual carriageways that have a speed limit of 50mph or above).
The maximum speed you can drive your mobility scooter on a road is 8mph. If you need to drive your class 3 scooter on the pavement you cannot exceed 4mph.
You can only drive on the road if you have a class three vehicle.
4. General Awareness
There are always going to be risks and hazards to negotiate even when you are proficient at driving your mobility scooter. Be aware of hazards such as potholes in the road, that could cause the scooter or powerchair to tip over. Bad weather is also something to consider as this can cause changes to terrain making pavements and roads slippery. Poor weather conditions can seriously impact safe mobility scooter use.
Other hazards such as ‘bin days’ in the local area create lots of obstruction on pavements. It could be wise to choose a different day to travel or take a different route.
It is important that if you need glasses then you should always wear them when you are driving so that you are able to see obstacles, vehicles and pedestrians in order to safely avoid them.
5. Route Planning
It’s good practice to plan your journey so that you know the route and terrain. Read the tips that are given for navigating bumps, curves and uneven ground. Most scooters can handle the basic street curb ramp. Some scooters are heavy-duty models designed for a rougher terrain than others.
You will also need to know the distance you are travelling to ensure that you have enough charge in the battery to get you there and back.
Visibility and making sure that other road users can see you is an extremely important part of staying safe while out on your mobility scooter.
Ensure when you are over taking, pulling out or changing direction that you check it is safe to do so and that others around you are aware of your intentions.
If you are travelling in reduced light such as late afternoon, evenings and at night. A good solution is to have a hi-viz jacket.
Where necessary have your lights on so that you are visible to others. Remember that having your lights on will use power from your battery and could impact your journey.
7. Pedestrians And Other Road Users
You must always be aware of pedestrians and drive safely. If you are on the pavement then you should always give way to pedestrians as they have right of way.
Be aware of other traffic and employ appropriate caution when around other vehicles.
8. Safe Charging, Storage and Security
Keep your battery charged and in good condition. Regularly charging your battery will increase its reliability and reduce its running costs.
Your mobility scooter will need to be stored in a secure, dry place that is off the road.
Wet weather and low temperatures can have a detrimental and damaging effect on your scooter or powerchair.
It is a good idea to insure your mobility scooter or powerchair. This will protect you against damage and theft. Check that your insurance policy also covers you for public liability which will protect the safety of others too.
9. Stopping and Starting Safely
Always check your surroundings to ensure that it is safe to start your journey. Make sure that there are no pedestrians in your way or any other vehicles.
Ensure that when you need to stop that you are able to do so. If you are going slower you will have more control and will be able to stop quickly.
As with starting, make sure that it is safe to stop. Try not to obstruct walkways and entrances as this could endanger you and others.
Weather conditions could impact stopping distances. Take this into account if you are out in wet conditions.
Make sure that your scooter or powerchair is well maintained. You should get your vehicle serviced regularly according to the manufacturer’s advice. A well maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle.
Did You Know…?
Legally, you can only drive a mobility scooter if you have trouble walking because of an injury, physical disability or medical condition.
An able-bodied person can use a mobility scooter in certain cases, such as if they are demonstrating a vehicle before it’s sold, are training a disabled user, or are taking the vehicle to or from maintenance or repair.
Finally…Remember to Always Drive Carefully!
We hope you have found the 10 points in this blog helpful. If you always drive carefully, it will ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
The most important point of driving your mobility scooter or powerchair safely is to always be aware of the people around you, and not to drive recklessly. Remember if you are on the pavement, pedestrians have right of way.
At Mobility Scotland we offer basic mobility scooter training to everyone within the greater Glasgow area, regardless of where or who you purchased your scooter from.
The programme is designed to promote safe mobility scooter use by increasing levels of user awareness, improving skill sets and boosting user confidence. In doing so we hope to ultimately reduce accidents.
If you feel that you would benefit from our Free Basic Training Session with an experienced mobility consultant which will last up to 60 mins, please contact us for more information.
Safe travels everyone!