With the average age of the British population on the rise the amount of mobility scooters on pavements and roads is also increasing. The independence a scooter can provide for someone with limited physical mobility is invaluable, but there is also a responsibility to drive it safely. If you have recently purchased a scooter, or aren’t quite confident in your control, here are some basic tips to ensure you’re driving safely.
Navigate Pedestrians Areas Safely
If you’re using your scooter on the pavement it’s important to be aware of other pedestrians. A mobility scooter – particularly 6-8mph models – can be of significant size and weight, giving them potential to cause injury in an accident. When navigating through busy crowded areas, it’s important to make sure others are aware of you due to you being below average eye level. Going at a steady speed, using hazard lights, and appropriately sounding the horn will give others ample warning to give you the necessary space to drive past.
It’s also important to drive safely in areas that are less crowded but still contain other pedestrians. An open space will give you an opportunity to stretch your scooters legs, but if you’re going quickly try to give others a wide birth. This is especially important if you’re coming up behind someone as a scooter suddenly speeding past them can be startling and unsafe. Considerately sharing space ensures you’re driving safely.
Avoid Fast Dual Carriageways Roads
Although 6-8mph scooters are classed as a class 3 invalid carriage – meaning it can be driven on the road – there are certain roads you should avoid. Dual carriageways with a speed limit of over 50mph are very unsafe for mobility scooters to drive one. The dramatic speed difference between the cars and the scooter mean a driver would have very little time to react if their road position crossed over with yours. This could result in a fatal collision.
It’s always important that you plan your journey to avoid fast dual carriageways, but if you’re unable to avoid using one there are rules you must follow to drive safely. Firstly, you must keep over to the left-hand side of the left lane and if there’s a hard shoulder, cycle lane, or pavement it’s safest to use this. You should also ensure your 6-8mph scooter has flashing amber lights to alert drivers of your position. It’s also important to note all mobility scooters are illegal on motorways.
Be Wary of Your Turns
Although mobility scooters are designed to be stable and capable of turning at full speed, there rare instances where they can topple over. This can then result in injury due to being trapped under the vehicle, or hitting the ground. However, by driving sensibly and being wary of the terrain you can prevent this from ever happening.
For instance, if you find your self turning while on a surface that is sloped on one side there are small adjustments you can make to turn safely. Primarily, you should reduce you speed to keep the scooter flat and level through the turn. As a secondary adjustment on more severe slopes you can also slightly shift you weight as a counter balance, but this is unlikely to be necessary in ordinary situations.