When you have limited mobility, a scooter can provide a cheap and simple way of getting out and about, but there are are some downsides you need to know about. Mobility scooters aren't right for everyone and we've heard about too many gathering dust in garages.
A mobility scooter looks a bit like a golf buggy, but functions more like a cross between a motorised wheelchair and a motor scooter. However, they travel much more slowly than motor scooters, with maximum speeds of 8mph for road scooters (the speed limit is 4mph on pavements).
Although there are different types available, all mobility scooters have bike-style steering (a ‘tiller’) to direct the wheels, large padded upright seats and simple controls. They are powered by batteries.
Mobility scooters are ideal if you have limited mobility but still want to be able to easily visit friends and family nearby.
If you would otherwise have to rely on others to do your shopping or get around town, they can bring increased freedom and independence.
Mobility scooters are particularly useful if your mobility is limited by conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis or obesity.
Specifically, they are designed for adults who:
If you can no longer drive a car due to sight, hearing or perceptual awareness difficulties, a mobility scooter is not for you, as you still need these senses to drive a scooter safely.
Mobility scooters are not suitable for long journeys out of town due to their limited speed, and the fact that the rechargeable batteries are only able to power the scooter for a few hours at a time.
They are also not generally for use at home, although some small portable models do give you that option.
If you're not sure whether a mobility scooter is right for you, you may prefer to get tailored advice from a registered health professional such as an occupational therapist (OT). To find an independent OT in your area, contact the College of Occupational Therapists. An hour’s appointment will normally be enough.