Modern scooters are equipped with many safety features that can protect the rider and the vehicle when out and about. Although accidents involving electric scooters are very rare, a scooter is not a car and can be small and vulnerable in comparison. When riding your disabled scooter on roads and pavements it is important to take every precaution to prevent accidents.
The British Healthcare Trades Association has produced The Highway Code for Electric Scooters and Wheelchair Users - a guide to staying safe when using a scooter or wheelchair. Some important points are listed below:
Before buying a vehicle…
- Make sure you are able and fit to use it safely
See well enough to be safe, adequately control your vehicle and be able to do all possible manoeuvres, such as reversing, climbing and descending kerbs and turning safely.Cross busy roads (this is not as easy on a scooter as on foot)
- Make sure your vehicle is the right one for you
You should choose a vehicle that you can find a comfortable driving position on - considering things like seat height and tiller position. The reasons for choosing a three or four wheeled vehicle are varied and can depend on many factors such as your weight, height and perhaps if the scooter is to be folded or not. You will need to be extremely careful when ascending and descending kerbs and when turning, as if it not done correctly the scooter may tip over.
- Do not be ambitious where distance is concerned
The range given in the manufacturer's literature is just a guideline. The full range will vary depending on user weight, the state of the terrain and the amount of charge left in the batteries.
Sensible guidelines for safety…
- When using the footpath
Just because you are on the footpath or pedestrian precinct does not make you a pedestrian. If you are on a motorised vehicle you are no longer a pedestrian. Remember that pedestrians always have right of way.Many people on foot will be kind and helpful to drivers of a wheelchair or scooter .But not everyone.In a crowded precinct or market area it is your responsibility to ensure you do not run in to anyone or do any harm with your vehicle.While many people will make room for you you cannot expect everyone to do so.
- When climbing or descending kerbs
Always approach at right angles, with your front wheels straight to the kerb. In some powerchairs it is necessary to descend high kerbs backwards. Do not try to climb or descend kerbs higher than the manufacturer recommends.
- Watch out for children, elderly people, disabled people on foot, people with visual problems or impaired hearing, other motorised vehicle users.You may be doing all the right things but this does not guarantee everyone will do likewise
When you need help…
- Don't struggle to do the impossible, or even the very difficult things when there are people around who would help if asked.
- When inside shops and buildings
It is your responsibility to drive safely and not damage fittings, stock or hurt other shoppers or store workers. Don't risk pulling down a whole display to reach the top shelf. Ask for help!
- Speed in shops and buildings - reduce it!
Set the speed control to a lower setting.Be especially careful if you need to reverse.
On the road…
- 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.
- Remember although it is legal to ride all vehicles on the road, it is not always safe or sensible to do so. You are responsible for your own safety and that of other road users. The normal rules of the road apply - but modified.
- Observe the law
Never drive against the traffic
Give way where cars would give way. Give way to pedestrians
Obey Traffic lights and all other road signs and signals and remember the car you can see when you look behind you is almost certainly moving faster then you, It could well be upon you before you complete your manoeuvre and it may not be able to stop in time.