Whether it is due to injuries or old age, there are plenty of reasons why people may need personal mobility aids (PMAs) to get around as quickly and efficiently as they used to. Among the mobility aids available on the market, none is more suited for outdoor use than the electric mobility scooter.
Due to its capacity to cover a wider range of terrain at great speed, mobility scooters are far more manoeuvrable in public compared to regular and motorised wheelchairs. However, their higher top speed also poses several safety hazards that users need to be aware of to prevent an accident. If you are considering getting a mobility scooter for your ageing parents, let us share five essential safety tips you and your parents need to keep in mind.
1. Pick the right scooter
Mobility scooters can have varying features and capabilities, so it is best to determine your parents' needs before making a purchase. Retailers generally list the specifications and features of their mobility aids on their online stores, so you can consider doing some research to see which device is suitable for your parents.
After picking out the right mobility aid, you should take the time to study the user manual and go through the important information with your parents so they can better understand how to operate the device. Nothing wears down a mobility scooter faster than improper usage, so ensure they become well-acquainted with it.
2. Practice before using the device in public
As the adage goes, "Practise makes perfect". It takes time to get used to operating a motorised mobility aid. Therefore, to avoid causing an accident or inconveniencing others in public, it is recommended that your parents take some time to practise driving the scooter in a safe environment. A spacious environment like the park is the ideal place to practise. Try to avoid peak periods where there are plenty of park-goers and keep a close eye on them during the practice sessions.
3. Use the sidewalks whenever possible
It can be tempting for many people to take a shortcut for convenience sake. This reason is why we often see people jaywalking instead of using the designated crossing facilities. This mindset can also apply to those using a mobility scooter.
Therefore, it is paramount for you to remind your parents to use the dedicated footpaths even if it is a longer route. Sticking to the sidewalks is undoubtedly much safer compared to being surrounded by vehicles on the road.
A great mindset to instill into them is that they are still pedestrians despite being on motorised wheels. If they have to cross the road, instruct them to use a pedestrian crossing or traffic light.
4. Research the route before travelling
Although mobility scooters can navigate a wide range of terrain, there are certain landscapes that remain inaccessible without the appropriate facilities, such as wheelchair ramps. Furthermore, certain rough terrains can damage the mobility aid, rendering the equipment inoperable. As such, it is vital for your parents to research their route and destination before setting out, especially if they are travelling alone.
5. Always exercise caution
Mobility scooters cannot achieve the travelling speed of an automobile, but that does not make them any less dangerous should the user accidentally hit a bystander. Therefore, it is imperative that your parents exercise caution and operate the device carefully at all times. Remind them to travel at minimal speed and always be mindful of their surroundings to avoid causing an accident.
Mobile scooters are one of the best options to allow the elderly and disabled community to travel around Malaysia swiftly and efficiently. However, similar to driving a vehicle or operating an electric scooter, it is paramount for the user to place safety as their number one priority. We hope the safety tips we have shared can educate everyone on the importance of operating a mobility scooter carefully so we can minimise the risk of an accident occurring.