this blog post was updated on 05/03/2019
Mobility scooters are an essential vessel in many peoples lives. Since you are reading this, it’s safe to say they play a part in your life or someone you know or love. Mobility scooters are becoming more common and will only grow in number as the years go on. Because of this, there are options to help you travel with your scooter in your automobile, on planes, and utilizing public transportation.
It is important to educate yourself on laws, policies, and which types of public transportation are mobility scooter friendly. There are many different types of scooters that travel well in cars, airplanes, or public transportation. It is important to narrow down the options to the best ones that will fit your lifestyle.
Consider the Following Before Buying
- What types of surfaces will you be traveling on?
- The types of surfaces will affect the type of tires and power you will need.
- Where do you want to go with your mobility scooter?
- Is this just to get around your house or will you be going out and about with your scooter?
- Will you need it to fit in a car or airplane?
- What size mobility scooter will you need?
- Will it fit on public transportation or in the current vehicle I have?
- If not, what accessories or accommodations will you need?
By considering the above questions with others you think of, you can start to plan how a mobility scooter will fit your life.
Let’s look at different types of travel and what you will need to consider to be safe and fit your needs.
Tips for Safe Airline Travel
Just because you have limited mobility doesn’t mean it has to limit where you go. There are options for you to bring your mobility scooter along with you on a plane.
- The best scooter for airline travel is a compact lightweight model designed to be portable. Most commercial air planes will accommodate your mobility scooter if it can be safely stored and easy to put in the cargo area.
- It is recommended to have the battery not charged or disconnected for safe travel.
- Unfortunately, there have been cases of batteries leaking or exploding because of the elevation and pressure changes. Contact the airline to ensure you properly prepare your battery for travel.
A mobility scooter designed for travel can withstand constant dismantling and putting back together. If your scooter is not designed for this, any effort to dismantle can damage the integrity of the scooter and make it unsafe to operate.
Tips for Safe Car Travel
It is important to have either a big enough vehicle or the proper equipment to safely transport your mobility scooter. The following are some types of accessories to consider if your vehicle or situation isn’t safe for mobility scooter transportation.
Lifts come in a wide variety of options and vary depending on what type of vehicle you have. Some lifts accommodate light weight scooters, but are not safe for heavier versions. Let’s explore some lift options you can consider.
Hatchback Lift: A hatchback lift is designed to lift and store a scooter in the rear of an SUV, minivan, or full-size van. It’s important to remember that this will take up all the rear space not leaving much room for additional storage. The hatchback lift is a great, safe option for transportation and safe loading without any unnecessary lifting.
Cargo Area Lift: Designed to lift a mobility scooter into the sliding doors of a minivan or full-size van, the cargo area lift offers a safe, and rather easy load and unload of your mobility scooter. You will most likely lose all the mid row seating area in your vehicle, but it is sometimes possible to only lose one seat.
Hitch Mounted Carrier Lifts: These lifts are used if you decide a trailer is the best method of safe travel for your mobility scooter. A motor raises and lowers the frame of the trailer for safe driving on and off the platform. You will need to ensure your vehicle is made to handle the hitch mounted carrier lift. If you use this with a vehicle that can’t handle the weight, you could lose control of the vehicle and get into an accident. If you don’t want to lose seating capacity in your vehicle, consider this as a viable option for safe mobility scooter transportation.
Truck Bed Lifts: These lifts can be mounted in the bed of the truck or come in a side mounted version as well. The side mount is ideal for a disabled driver who can operate the lift from the side and slide directly onto the mobility scooter. For most users, the lift will be in the bed of the truck for safe loading and transportation.
Straps and securing measures come with most of these lifts. However, you will need to ensure this as additional securing measures may be needed. Get to know the lifts and follow instructions closely. If the instructions are not properly followed, you could end up losing your mobility scooter during travel and endangering yourself and other people sharing the road.
Tips for Safe Public Transportation Use
Public transportation is increasingly making efforts to accommodate mobility scooters. However, there is still a long way to go. You need to familiarize yourself with your area and if public transportation is an option for you. There are certain mobility scooters that lend themselves as safer options for public transportation use. Some tips to think about are:
Your retailer or supplier of your mobility scooter can help you with this decision. There are dimension and weight concerns that need to be taken into effect. A lightweight scooter that can be folded or dismantled with ease lend themselves as a better option for public transportation.
Some buses and trains have lifts that can be used to load and secure your mobility scooter for travel. Not all public transport will help you in that process, so if you need help with the lift it can be a difficult situation to manage. If you live in an area where you regularly use public transportation, contact the company and see what accommodations they have available to you.
Taxis, for the most part, can accommodate only scooters that can fit in the trunk. Of all modes of public transportation, taxis are the furthest behind the curve.
There are buses and companies you can take advantage of that specialize in people with mobility issues. These companies are more expensive, but they help load and unload your mobility scooter and get you on your way.
Safe Travel Tips After Reaching Your Destination
You have arrived safely at your destination. Try these safety tips if you are traveling on public roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails:
- Slow and steady wins the race. If you have a need for speed, leave it home when you’re on your mobility scooter. Increased speed will lead to a greater chance of accident or damage to your scooter or public property.
- The flattest route can be your best friend. The more hills in your route will put extra strain on your battery and if you run out of juice on a hill, you could be in for a dangerous backwards ride.
- Don’t try to hot rod around corners! VROOM! Take them slow and wide and maximize the turning radius of your mobility scooter. Many mobility scooter accidents happen when operators misjudge a corner and go into it at an angle and way to fast.
- Visibility can be an issue for you and your mobility scooter. If you are near vehicles, remember you are smaller and harder to see, especially at night. It’s a good idea to wear bright, reflective clothing at all times when operating your mobility scooter. It’s worth the investment to put lights and reflectors on the scooter for increased safety and visibility.
- You will need to be keenly aware of your surrounding and, if possible, have your head on a swivel. Your mobility issues may make turning your head difficult. Consider putting mirrors where you can look at all sides of your environment and react to any potential dangerous situations.
Before each trip, ensure proper maintenance and checks have been made to your mobility scooter.
- How do the tires look? Do the treads look worn down?
- Is your battery fully charged?
- Are your mirrors properly adjusted?
- Are all lights working properly and reflectors in place for increased visibility?
- A helpful feature some mobility scooter retailers offer is a service that will come help if you breakdown. Depending on how much and where you travel, this can be a worthwhile investment.