Mobility Scooters for the Elderly

September, 2012 TSG_PTIMG_scooters

Mobility scooters are designed to give greater mobility to the elderly and people with disabilities that without some form of transport would limit their independence and restrict their movement at home and prevent them from visiting friends and family, even going shopping.

A mobility scooter or buggy though is not a replacement for a wheelchair or power chair and there are a variety of scooters to choose from. There are specialist movability shops who will advise you on which type of mobility scooter is best for you.

Usually you would consider purchasing a mobility scooter when you are unable to drive a car easily anymore but still want to go short distances under your own “steam”. Ideally you will still need to be able to transfer easily on and off the seat, be reasonably fit around the upper body so that you can manage the scooter and not need specialised seat unit or pressure care cushion.

You don’t need to have a driving license to use a mobility scooter and indeed many people turn to using mobility scooters when they lose their license due to old age or ill health. However, you must be responsible when driving and you have an obligation to the general public to drive the mobility scooter safely and sensibly, even if you only drive it on the pavements. For this reason, users with visual, perceptual or learning difficulties should seek medical advice before considering purchasing a mobility scooter.

Types of Mobility Scooters
There are different classes of mobility Scooters:

Class 2 Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs
Are for pavement use with a maximum speed of 4mph. All pavement scooters are classified as Class 2 vehicles and can be used on all pavements and footpaths. You can also use pedestrian and zebra crossings to get across the road but you are NOT permitted to travel along the road. These are not required to be registered with DVLA.

Class 3 Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs
Are for use on the highway with a maximum speed of 8mph. There are a number of specific features that a scooter must have to be classified as a Class 3 vehicle.

The most important of these are:

  • Front and rear lights
  • Indicators and hazard lights
  • Horn
  • Rear view mirror
  • Brakes
  • They can travel at speeds of up to 8mph BUT must have a switch to enable travel at 4mph when driving on pavements or pedestrian areas.

There are some legal restrictions on Class 3 vehicles. The first is that they cannot be driven by an able bodied person except for reasons of repair or maintenance. The other restriction relates to where you can use the scooter. You must not drive the scooter on motorways, in cycle lanes or in bus lanes.One good idea is to ask someone who has one already and find out what they know and maybe recommend.

Question: Where am I likely to mainly use the scooter – indoors or outdoors or both?
If indoor then how lightweight is it, what’s the turning radius and manoeuvrability and how big is it and how easy will it be to store? How big are my rooms and corridors? Is it flat or are there lots of steps. A compact mobility scooter is probably the one considered most suitable for indoor use for indoor use could be the right choice for you.

For travel outdoors, you will want to have a more solid mobility scooter that can handle rough ground and uneven pavements gracefully. Stability and speed will be important considerations. A 4 wheel electric mobility scooter could be your best bet.  If outdoor you may need a mobility scooter with extra power. A 4 wheel mobility scooter often has the power and the stability to handle obstacles and of course you may need to drive on roads. In most cases, medical scooters need to be able to travel at least 8 MPH to be used on roads, and must be equipped with both headlights and taillights.

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