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Can Electric Wheelchair Go on the Road ?

When it comes down to choosing and purchasing an electric wheelchair, there are so many things to consider first. Will it add more comfort to your everyday life and enable you to journey outdoors? Is the seat good enough for outdoor journeys? What are the accessories that are available for the wheelchair? Can it go on the road? Well, to answer the last question, yes, an electric wheelchair can go on the road. 

Switching from manual to electric wheelchairs can seem challenging, but it need not be. Once you have handpicked the type of electric wheelchair you want and have carried out research on all the practicalities – such as batteries, storage, and the rest of them – you only need to worry about the rules for going on the road or the pavement with your electric wheelchair. And, before you get too surprised; there isn’t much to remember. Above all, you are sure to experience more freedom than ever before with an electric wheelchair.

Motorized devices such as power wheelchairs are an important part of everyday living for those with mobility problems. More and more people are using motorized wheelchairs each year and this number is said to keep adding as the world’s population grows higher. Different state departments of transportation and main roads welcome and advise all those with mobility issues to take part in public transport services.

This article concentrates on the tips and guides for using electric wheelchairs on the increasing number of roads, and how to avoid accidents and other bad occurrences from happening. It is very important that you know your responsibilities and rights as an electric wheelchair traveler, and know the laws that govern the use of an electric wheelchair.

What You Should Know Before Going On The Road

First and foremost, you do not require any form of official licensing to drive an electric wheelchair on the road. Nevertheless, you may need to get your chair registered – especially if it meets the standard of mobility electric chairs that are meant for road and pedestrian purposes. In other words, the government classes electric and manual wheelchairs in two main categories:

  1. Class 2 invalid carriage’
  2. Class 3 invalid carriage’

You should know that the ‘class 2 invalid carriage’ isn’t suitable for road use, but the ‘class 3 invalid carriage’ is. To know if your electric chair is categorized under the ‘class 3’, it must have the following features:

  • The total weight of the chair – without being seated upon – must be up to 150kg
  • The width (maximum) of the power wheelchair must be 0.85 meters.
  • The mobility device can reduce its speed to 4 MPH, but have a maximum speed of 8 MPH. 
  • The electric wheelchair has a responsive and efficient braking system which has undergone several tests.
  • Rear, front lights and indicators are installed on the electric wheelchair
  • A good horn on the wheelchair to alert people of its presence
  • A rearview mirror

It is very crucial to know that you can go on the road only on a class 3 carriage, however, but the highest speed for doing this is 8 mph. You can’t drive in cycle or bus lanes or on a motorway. You must also abide by the Highway Code for wheelchair users on the road.

As earlier mentioned, only class 3 wheelchairs need to be registered before going on the road. All that is required of you is to contact the DVLA who will provide you with a document known as a ‘nil duty’ tax disc. This implies that you are not obligated to pay any road tax. You must carry this tax disc with you at all times when going on a wheelchair road drive.

On The Pavement

Most wheelchair owners will prefer to drive on the open pavement to stay clear of any potential troubles on the road, also lowering the pressure for new wheelchair owners. All mobility electric chairs can be driven on any pavement or footpaths, but you must not exceed the general speed of 4 mph. In the same manner, parking restrictions apply to electric wheelchairs as well, and you are not permitted to park in any area that blocks the way to other pedestrians. Most importantly, you have absolutely nothing to worry about as you will get greater comfort from your wheelchair.

Most Suitable Electric Wheelchairs For Outdoor Use

We have carried out research and have found the best electric wheelchairs for outdoor usage, and you must do your research before buying your electric wheelchair. For example, discuss your needs and daily living with the wheelchair supplier, who will know about the type of mobility powered wheelchair that will suit your needs, as well as the required accessories and other important customizable features.

Nonetheless, for wheelchair users who plan on traveling outdoors regularly on their electric wheelchairs, we recommend taking a look at rear-wheel drive electric wheelchairs. These types of mobility devices boast the rear wheel, which in turn provides better support and security for the user. Similarly, they also provide users with a wider turning radius, giving you more flexibility when going on the road. 

You can learn more about the best electric wheelchairs suitable for outdoor movements from online stores and pages. We do suggest that you also make sure that your wheelchair has not been left uncharged for too long but is well charged before leaving your house. Also, whenever you drive back home, if you can, properly clean all dirt off the wheels as this could potentially obstruct usage in the future.

Below are some ways in ensuring that you have a smooth outdoor drive in your electric wheelchair:

Get Your Electric Wheelchair Insurance

Insurance is very important for those with electric wheelchairs. While you may always keep your wheelchair safe, the natural environment and other factors can render your attempts useless. For example, everyday obstructions such as cyclists, uneven pavements, potholes, driveway, and even pedestrians can pose dangerous threats to you and your electric chair. Getting your mobility electric chair insured can prove useful and give the rest of the mind in case your wheelchair’s safety gets out of your hands.

For those powered wheelchair users that drive their wheelchair on the main roads, we also strongly suggest that you consider getting your chair insured. If any accidents occur and people get hurt because of your electric chair, the insurance will help in ensuring that you don’t suffer financially. You can get private insurance advice through a large number of online sites, as well as your wheelchair supplier who might be able to suggest good insurance companies.

Follow The Supplier’s Directives

A powered wheelchair can be cumbersome and heavy, making it likely to tip in some circumstances. These chairs with wheels weigh anywhere from 150Ibs to 450lbs. Ensure you keep your legs, hands, feet, and arms within the perimeter of your wheelchair at all times. This will help in keeping the chair steady. Do not place too much load on your chair to stop it from tipping over.

Be Mindful Of Uneven Surfaces

If you journey outside and decide to go on a sidewalk, look for a driveway or curb cuts to do so. Do not try to go over a curb not unless your wheelchair is specifically made to scale through steps and curbs. While on a driveway, uneven surfaces could make your wheelchair to tip over. Also, you should avoid driving your electric mobility device when it is raining. This could make it to malfunction and might cause problems. 

Follow The Rules & Regulations Of The Road

While using your electric wheelchair, ensure that you abide by the basic traffic rules and regulations in busy places. Drive on the appropriate side of the pathway or hallway. Look both directions at an intersection of a driveway to ensure that no one is coming. Announce yourself at blind corners or closed doors by pressing the horn to avoid colliding with other road users. Reduce the rate at which you use your electric mobility device if your vision or any other sense is impaired. Some people who are wheelchair-bound, including those that suffer from motor skills issues, may find it hard to use an electric wheelchair. Safety depends entirely on the alertness and responsiveness of the driver to sight dangerous situations.

Conclusion 

A large number of people are switching to electric wheelchairs for better independence and comfort in life. These mobility devices may provide individuals with limited mobility, or chair-bound people with the freedom to go from one place to another without waiting for a caregiver, friend, or family member to help them out. Plus, taking an electric wheelchair on the road is less stressful than taking a manual wheelchair out since movement is done by pushing a button, and you won’t have to sore your muscles and hands. 

Ultimately, your electric wheelchair is an important part of you and must be seen as such. Always keep it in its best state and you will get comfort from it. 

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