As the usage of mobility scooters increases due to Australia’s ageing population and consistent usage by many people living with disability, so too does the risk of accidents involving scooter drivers.
There are ways to minimise this risk, through mobility scooter safety techniques such as learning how to be more visible. This article will provide you with some tips you’ve likely heard and hopefully some new ones!
Not being noticed is a huge concern
When Blue Badge Insurance recently ran a survey amongst mobility equipment users we found that being unnoticed by others was of great concern. In fact, ‘pedestrians who don’t notice me’ was the second biggest safety risk people feel they can’t control.
The top five safety risks for the Australians we surveyed were:
- Cracked/uneven footpaths – 85% said this was a big risk
- Pedestrians who don’t notice me – 67%
- Crossing roads – 62%
- Crossing driveways – 56%
- Navigating through parking lots – 50%
Unfortunately, it’s true that many Australians don’t take as much care around mobility scooters as they should. And, for whatever reason, some simply don’t see them. One reason may be that you’re sitting, and therefore shorter than most people around you.
Whatever the reason, we’re putting the power into users’ hands by exploring how to be more visible when venturing out on your mobility scooter.
Tip 1 – Be alert
It’s important to always be on high alert whenever you’re driving your mobility scooter. You can’t trust your life in anyone else’s hands so concentrate on being the most vigilant scooter driver possible. This will help ensure your safety.
You need to be other pedestrians’ eyes and ears, staying attentive to the possibility that they won’t see you or will misjudge their proximity to you. Keep off your phone, avoid handling anything else other than your wheel, make sure your lap is unencumbered and focus on the task at hand.
Tip 2 – Be loud
If you see someone barrelling towards you the don’t be afraid to yell out loudly. Even better, have a bell or horn installed on your scooter and use it.
You might want to use it even if the situation isn’t dangerous. Such as when needing to get the attention of those in front of you, so they know you’re coming, if you’ve spoken up but they haven’t heard you. This could make all the difference to having a hassle-free journey.
Remember that many people don’t have good eyesight, yet they are still out on the roads and footpaths. Cover all bases by making yourself heard as well as making yourself visible.
Tip 3 – Use mobility scooter accessories
If your scooter is an important enabler of your mobility then do everything you can to make it as visible as possible through colours and lights. This is the case whether you’re driving at night or during the day.
Dress your scooter up with one of more of these visibility-enhancing mobility scooter accessories:
- Flag – probably the most widely used mobility scooter visibility device, a bright flag mounted on your scooter (where it doesn’t obscure your eyesight) is a quick way of improving your chances of being noticed
- Light/s – when installing one, locate it wherever is going to shine most brightly on your person and the path in front of you (without distracting you or blinding people going past)
- Reflective strips – again, attach these wherever you think will make them most noticeable
- Backpack – by this we mean a brightly coloured, reflective stickered bag that you hang over the back of your seat, making you more noticeable to those behind you
Tip 4 – Brighten yourself up
Keeping yourself colourful is also key. If being as visible as possible on your scooter is important to you then ditch the fashion focus and choose clothes and shoes that will make you noticeable because they’re bright. Choose the red stripy shirt over the black one, for example. And the vividly coloured sneakers over the brown sandals.
You could also invest in a hi vis vest and a fun fluro-coloured helmet. Or you might decide to secure a hi vis vest over the back of your chair.
Tip 5 – Take the safest possible route
Remember that under the law you’re a pedestrian, so you need to stick to the footpaths as much as you possibly can. This will lower the risk of you being hit by a car, though it’s no guarantee of your overall safety. Pedestrians are also a danger to scooters.
Use a GPS to plan out your route, as well as your experience in navigating the streets. This will help you choose the simplest, most familiar routes with the least traffic. So, less risk to you. You should also keep a keen eye out for footpath cracks, uneven surfaces, driveways in use and people parking their car.
Tip 6 – Avoid bad weather
Wherever possible, avoid travelling out into weather that limits your and others’ ability to see what’s ahead of them. Misty mornings… rainy days… cloudy nights… reconsider your needs to use your mobility scooter in these environments. Can it wait?
If you do need to head out at times like these then take it slower. Scooters are limited to 10 kilometres per hour, however it’s always best to slow your speed to the pedestrians around you – and slow it further if you’re less visible due to the weather. Besides, they’re easier to correct and manoeuvre when you’re driving slower.
Remember to turn on your light in these conditions. In fact, it’s a great idea to use your light every time you head out and really maximise your chances of being visible on your mobility scooter.
Safeguard yourself further
Sometimes, no matter how hard you work to make yourself visible or how careful you are on your mobility scooter, accidents occur.
We suggest you seriously consider protecting your key to freedom with mobility equipment insurance. That way you’ll set off every day knowing that if something happens you can get back on your wheels quickly and without a lot of financial stress.
Already have insurance? Perhaps after reading this you’re keen for more information about choosing the right mobility scooter? Read our comprehensive Mobility Scooter Guide.
Want to know more about mobility scooter laws and how they’re changing? Read our Need To Know: New Laws For Motorised Mobility Devices article for the lowdown.
Now you’re armed with all this information, we wish you all the best with your scootering adventures…