Tips for choosing an electric scooter
An electric or motorised scooter is a great way for older people to get around and maintain independence. Care should be taken when purchasing a scooter and there are many things that should be considered.
In this article:
- Who can use electric scooters?
- What skills do people need to operate electric scooters?
- Who can help choose an electric scooter?
- What to consider before purchasing an electric scooter
- Scooters and safety on the road
- Questions to ask when purchasing a scooter
- Where can I buy an scooter?
Legally an electric scooter user must have reduced mobility or disability to warrant the use of a scooter. A person may have trouble walking long distances, getting to the shops or using public transport due to disability or a health condition.
Operating an electric scooter safely takes skill and agility. If purchasing an electric scooter for an older person you must consider if they have the physical and mental capability to operate it safely.
A person needs good coordination, balance and strength. They need to be able to manage the controls and use the steering wheel. A person needs to be able to adjust their weight and balance on a scooter over rough terrain.
Good vision and hearing, perception and judgment is also required to navigate pedestrians, recognise hazards, control speed and judge distances.
Older people often take medications that can make them drowsy or affect their ability to concentrate and operate an electric scooter.
If you are not sure if an older family member can safely operate an electric scooter check with a doctor or make an appointment with an occupational therapist.
An occupational therapist can help choose the most appropriate type of scooter based on your family member's capabilities and needs.
Some scooter shops have occupational therapists that come to the home, others will require an independent assessment be done first.
Purchasing the wrong kind of electric scooter can increase the risk of injury and accidents. It can also be an expensive exercise.
There are two different types of scooters. Three wheeled scooters are suitable for indoor use. Four wheeled scooters are more suitable for outdoor use over rough terrain.
Consider the following before purchasing a scooter:
- Is there access to safe and adequate footpaths to all key destinations like the shops?
- Does the scooter have enough range to get where a person needs to go?
- Can the scooter fit through doorways?
- Does the person have to cross many main roads? Is it safe to do so?
- Where will the scooter be stored? It will need to be parked somewhere safe and within reach of a power point to recharge the battery
- Can the scooter be locked?
If you do purchase a scooter for an older person ensure they know how to properly use and maintain it. They will need to be able to manage the battery and check the tyres. Find out if the purchase of the scooter includes any maintenance by the supplier.
Arrange for insurance in case of an accident or theft. Does the insurance cover accidents that occur outside the home or to others on public footpaths?
Scooters that weigh less than 110kg do not require a license, registration or CTP insurance providing they do not travel over 10km per hour.
Always check with the roads and traffic authority in your state.
- If planning to transport a scooter in a car can it be dismantled and does your loved one have the strength to lift the parts?
- If you must take a scooter away with you how will you transport it? By trailer or specialised electric lifter? Do you have a suitable vehicle for transporting the scooter?
- Is the scooter allowed on public transport?
- Do you have a warranty? For how long?
- If I need parts who shall I call?
- What kind of insurance cover do I need?
- Can the scooter be garaged in a residential facility?
- Is there somewhere to store a walking stick?
- Can groceries be carried on the scooter?
- How comfortable is the back rest?
- Is it easy to get off the scooter or will a person need a swivel seat?
Remember an occupational therapist or physiotherapist is the best person to assess whether a scooter is suitable for an older person.
If buying a second hand scooter have an assessment first and ask the therapist to recommend a particular type or brand of scooter.
Ask a scooter supplier if you can test the scooter at home or hire the scooter for a couple of days.
- You can buy scooters online or at mobility shops and some pharmacies. Look online using the key words motorised scooters.
- Look in the yellow pages under home health care aids and equipment fro a supplier.
- Independent Living Centres provide free advice on equipment. You can also test a number of scooters and talk to an occupational therapist.
- Call the Independent Living Centre (ILC) info-line 1300 885 886.
Encourage a person to wear bright clothing when out and about on a scooter to ensure they are visible to pedestrians and cars.
Attach a tall fluorescent flag to the the scooter visible to motorists and pedestrians. Use the headlights and wear a helmet for extra protection.
Roads and Traffic Authority NSW
Motorised wheelchair (scooters) , Information fact sheet