According to research the global mobility scooter market is forecast to reach £1.64bn by 2026. With increasing popularity and the ability to transform the lives of people with disabilities, mobility scooters have become a common sight up and down the country, giving thousands of people an enhanced level of independence.
Out in the wild
Getting outside has many therapeutic benefits which include giving yourself a break from work (or the four walls of your home), helping achieve the recommended dose of vitamin D that Doctors always remind us we don’t get enough of, connecting with others (even if it has been from a safe distance during the pandemic) and getting that release of endorphins, which are known to help relieve the body of stress and pain.
For some less abled people it is a challenge to achieve these benefits but with the help of a mobility scooter the opportunities and benefits soon present themselves.
What are the benefits?
There are so many benefits to owning a mobility scooter and very few disadvantages. For many people across the UK with mobility issues, mobility scooters offer a direct lifeline to the outside world and a degree of autonomy and freedom that would otherwise prove impossible.
In terms of who they are aimed at, mobility scooters are most suited to individuals with limited mobility, such as caused by arthritis, MS, obesity or, the one thing that gets us all, age. They help people who are able-bodied enough to get by without a wheelchair, but need help with becoming more mobile to do shopping, carry out tasks and visit friends and family.
There are various types of scooters that each have their pros and cons. We do try to highlight the key benefits, issues and point out things to consider but we do welcome the views and advice of others. Without your feedback others may be lost.
Things to consider
The first few things people think of when considering a mobility scooter are:
How far can I travel?
This varies between manufacturers and depends on the size of the mobility scooter you select but based on a mid-range (Class 2) mobility scooter you would be looking at distances of approximately 15-25 miles on a single charge.
It’s worth noting that there are other factors affecting the range you could achieve, include your weight, how hilly your journeys are, heavy shopping onboard and the age of the battery.
How’s the battery life?
The batteries will usually need charging on a daily basis, especially if using the scooter each day and across varying terrain. It is recommended by most manufacturers that you charge for the full charge time each time and never let them fully run out. On average a full charge takes approximately eight hours.
It is also recommended, due to the degradation of these batteries over time, that you replace them every 12-18 months.
The cost of a replacement battery varies between £100 and £500, so it is worth looking at what battery the scooter takes when considering your purchase.
Is a licence needed?
The basic models, and most common scooters, known as Class 2 mobility scooters are simple to operate but cannot be driven on the road, hence no need for a driving licence. The only exception to using them on the road is where there is no pavement. The maximum speed of these scooters is limited to 4mph.
Class 3 mobility scooters are the only ones allowed on the road and therefore require you to have a driving licence, register them with the DVLA, ensure you have working lights, indicators, a horn and mirrors. Most road-legal mobility scooters boast top speeds of 6 to 8mph, as well as full suspension. Another benefit is the extended range on one charge. On average this is approximately 35 miles.
How much do they cost?
As you were probably expecting me to say, it depends. It depends on the make, the model, the size and whether it is Class 2 or Class 3. Having looked at a number of them online the mid-range Class 2 scooters vary from £700-£1,500 and the road-legal Class 3 scooters £1,300-£5,500.
Mobility of the mobility scooter and storage is an often-overlooked topic but as long as you have storage space for it at home you only have to consider if you want it to fit in to your car. These days with a lot of Motability cars there are lifts and hoists that you can get to help you fit your scooter in the boot. Thus, enabling your trip to take in locations further afield.
Unfortunately, mobility scooters are not suitable for everyone. For example, if you have been told you can no longer drive a car as a result of sight, hearing or other impairments. It may sound obvious but these are faculties you need to be able to drive a mobility scooter safely.
Finally, before you race off to buy one you need to consider your location and what you want it for. If you live in a built-up area with amenities relatively local to you, a mobility scooter will definitely improve your lifestyle. However, due to the limited speed of 4mph and a limited battery life, those living in remote places may have to consider other options. Getting stuck on the B6265 as it gets dark may not be the therapeutic jaunt out you’d hoped for.
You can’t put a value on the mental and physical health benefits that getting out and about more offers to the many people taking advantage of mobility scooters. However, it is best to make sure you shop around, speak to people who have a mobility scooter already and even speak with social care services.
It is also worth considering that mobility scooters can sometimes be leased through schemes like Motability, though this option is restricted to those on certain disability benefits.