What is a mobility scooter?
A mobility scooter is a type of motorised mobility aid that’s designed to help those living with mobility issues or restricted movement get around more independently. They’re electrically powered devices that you can ride, with some mobility scooters – though not all – suitable to be used on the road.
There are lots of different types of mobility scooters available, and we’ll cover some of the most popular models in this guide.
Is a mobility scooter right for them?
If a member of your family is living with issues that affect their mobility, a mobility scooter is definitely an option – especially if they’re finding it difficult to walk without support and want to retain the freedom to venture out and about. According to government guidance*, your loved one can only drive a mobility scooter if they ‘have trouble walking because of an injury, physical disability or medical condition’ so they’re not available for everyone to use. If they don’t meet this criteria, you could consider suggesting other types of mobility aid, including rollators or wheelchairs, for them.
As well as being allowed to use a mobility scooter, there are also other considerations to bear in mind – mainly whether it’s suitable for your loved one. They will ideally need to be able to get on and off the mobility scooter without assistance. They will also need to have enough strength and dexterity in their hands and arms to operate the steering on a mobility scooter, although most models are lightweight and easy to manoeuvre.
Most importantly, their eyesight and hearing should be of a good enough standard to keep them safe – especially if they’re going to be using their mobility scooter on the road. Again, to quote government guidance*, while there’s no legal eyesight requirement to drive mobility scooters – or powered wheelchairs – they should be able to read a car’s registration from 40 feet away.
Different types of mobility scooter
If you’re wondering which mobility scooter to buy for your loved one, there’s a range of different types and styles available. Don’t rush into a decision; a mobility scooter is a significant investment and one you should make with a view to long-term use. It’s got to work for them and what they need, so make sure it feels right. A lot of the mobility scooters you can buy from us have a 30 day money back guarantee, and a process of returns if you’re not completely happy.
It’s always a good idea to seek expert advice, too. You may find a consultation with a member of our Occupational Therapist team useful – there’s more information on our Home Living Consultation Service here.
Popular types of mobility scooter include:
- 3 wheel mobility scooters – two wheels at the rear and one at the front
- 4 wheel mobility scooters – providing extra sturdiness and balance
- Folding mobility scooters – lightweight and easy to store, ideal for travel
You’ll find most mobility scooters classified into one of two different categories, too – Class 2 and Class 3 mobility scooters. What’s the difference?
Class 2 mobility scooters
Class 2 mobility scooters can be used outdoors – but are limited to footpaths, pavements and crossing the road. They can’t be driven on the road. Typical features of a Class 2 mobility scooter is that they’re lightweight and can be folded. Battery life is often shorter than Class 3 mobility scooters – an example here is this Folding Mobility Scooter, which has a range of six miles.
Class 3 mobility scooters
If they want the option of using their mobility scooter on the road, you’ll need to choose a Class 3 mobility scooter. These are authorised for use on roads and pavements, though not legally defined as a motor vehicle so there’s no need to take a driving test or even hold a driving licence. With Class 3 mobility scooters, battery life tends to be longer, and the wheels are often harder-wearing and more durable, to cope with road use. An example is this Drive AutoFold Elite Mobile Scooter, which has puncture proof tyres.
It’s important to bear in mind that a Class 3 vehicle can only be used by a disabled person who is 14 years of age or older, or by someone demonstrating one before selling it.
Advanced mobility scooters
For something a little different, you might want to consider a mobility scooter that operates very much like a car. Yes, this definitely exists! The Scooterpac Cabin Car is a uniquely-designed mobility scooter that still allows someone to retain their independence if they no longer have the means to drive. It’s a fully contained mobility scooter with a maximum speed of 8 miles an hour, and a range, after full charge, of 22 miles. Because it’s classed as a Class 3 invalid carriage, they won’t need a driver’s licence to operate it.
How fast do mobility scooters go?
The maximum speed of a mobility scooter varies. Many models have a top speed of 4 mph, while some can go as fast as 8 mph. Class 3 mobility scooters usually have a faster speed than Class 2 models, as they can be operated on the road.
How long does a mobility scooter battery last?
Battery range and battery life will be different for every mobility scooter, so make sure you look into the details properly before buying one. For some mobility scooters the maximum range is six miles on a single charge, for others – capable of long distances – it’s an impressive 30 miles. Batteries for mobility scooters will need charging regularly; you can see our selection of mobility scooter batteries here, which are available in a choice of different voltage options.
Tax and insurance on mobility scooters
Does a mobility scooter need to be taxed and insured, like a regular vehicle? It’s a good idea to be aware of the rules and regulations during the buying journey. Follow the guidelines on gov.uk**. A class 3 mobility scooter won’t need road tax but any owner has to be recorded as a registered keeper, which means getting a new vehicle log book – what’s known as a V5C. On insurance, while it’s not a legal necessity, it is recommended as it provides cover from damage and theft.
Mobility scooter accessories
To make the most of their experience when using a mobility scooter, you might like to add a few accessories for them. Mobility scooter accessories can make them feel more comfortable when they’re using their scooter, as well as adding convenience.
Useful mobility scooter accessories include:
Mobility scooter covers
If they’re out and about and plan on leaving your mobility scooter outside for a period of time, a rain cover will keep it dry and protected from wet weather. Choose from lighter covers to heavy duty versions. These are also ideal for storage, so if their mobility scooter is kept outside you can make sure it’s not exposed to the elements.
Mobility scooter clothing
If they need comfort and protection during poor weather, scooter capes and scooter canopies are designed to be used while they’re driving their mobility scooter – great if they’re venturing out in the rain. When it’s cold outside, something like this Deluxe Mobility Scooter Cosy will keep them warm. It has a fleece lining inside, so they’ll be extra toasty.
View our full range of mobility scooters here.