Ever since time immemorial, humankind has relied on tools to resolve obstacles in their path and achieve their goals. With the right usage, such tools carry out their intended purpose without breaking down or causing harm to their user. Personal mobility aids (PMA) are no different. As assistive equipment for the elderly and the disabled who have reduced mobility, PMAs allow their users to regain the freedom of movement they once enjoyed and live life just like they used to. However, as mentioned, these PMAs can break down and cause harm to users if they are handled improperly, especially in the faster, motorised versions. In this article, we shall be focusing on the safe handling of mobility scooters and the do's and don'ts to remember whenever using them outdoors.
Always check the battery level before setting out
Be sure to check if your battery is fully charged before setting off for your destination. Doing so guarantees you will have enough power to reach where you want to go and return home without the risk of being stranded. Besides the battery, check if the tires are inflated to the correct pressure to ensure efficient movement and energy consumption.
Be constantly aware of your surroundings
Awareness of pedestrians, other road users, and vehicles is vital when out and about on your mobility scooter. Pedestrians may not be readily aware of your presence, and they can quickly change direction at a moment's notice or suddenly come to a complete stop in front of you. Thus, take care to put some distance between you and other road users so that you will have enough time to react, stop, and manoeuvre around them.
Be careful when turning corners
Mobility scooters are designed to be as stable as possible, but reckless driving will increase its risk of tipping over and causing you injury. Moreover, you never know if someone else is just around the corner, so be sure to slow down and be cautious.
Remember that you are still a pedestrian
Despite being on wheels, do not forget that you are still a pedestrian. As such, remember the Highway Code and obey the rules that everyone else walking on the sidewalk adheres to.
Be mindful when tackling inclined terrain
Steep slopes and gradients can be hazardous terrain if one is not careful enough. As a rule of thumb, always take them straight on, whether it be going up or down, and never at an angle. Mobility scooter manufacturers will always have a maximum safe angle for their vehicles, and if your scooter exceeds its limits, it is more than likely to tip over.
Carry extra passengers
Even if your mobility scooter has a high weight limit and can take on an extra load, it is never advisable to take on another passenger, even if it is just a small child. Doing so can prove dangerous and even illegal in some cases.
Go fast in crowded areas
Having the ability to go fast does not mean you should do so, especially in crowded areas. Take care always to go slow to avoid unwanted accidents and injuries for yourself and those around you, even if you are in a hurry.
Overload your mobility scooter
Overloading your mobility scooter with unstable items or shopping purchases is never ideal, even for short journeys. In addition, avoid hanging items on the handlebars of your PMA since doing so can affect the way it steers, potentially leading to accidents and injury.
Wear loose clothing
Loose-fitting clothing can be hazardous when using your mobility scooter. Scarves, long belts, and sashes can very easily get caught in one of the PMA's moving parts or wheels and cause a sudden disruption to its normal operation, potentially causing an injury.
Mobility scooters are excellent, motorised PMAs that allow their users to go further on their own whenever they want. This greater mobility gives them the sense of normalcy that they had been used to back when they were still able-bodied individuals. However, if used improperly, these devices can lead to injuries and endanger others in public as well. Hence, it is essential to be aware of the fundamental safety tips and do's and don'ts when operating a motorised mobility scooter.