Taking Electric Wheelchairs on the Road – Road Friendly or Road Foe?
Technological advancements have given us many updates to old-fashioned regular mechanical wheelchairs. With the advent of electric wheelchairs, and some of the advancements in electric wheelchairs, an important question remains popular: Are electric wheelchairs road-friendly?
There is an assumption that if you have an electric wheelchair, that it’s not just for your home or office. People use electric wheelchairs for all sorts of activities, from running errands to buying groceries, to going to the park. And now many residential communities are “golf cart friendly”. So what does that mean for electric wheelchairs? To help you further, we have clarified the issue and developed several tips and ways to take your wheelchair out on the road.
As far as the law in the US is concerned, there is no particular restriction in taking your electric wheelchairs to the road. So the simple answer to the question is: yes, you can take your electric wheelchair on the road. Now, does that mean that it’s a good idea to drive in traffic after reading this article? Definitely not. That can be dangerous, and of course, your electric wheelchair most likely doesn’t have a license plate, or side mirrors, etc. which would make a vehicle street legal. So, there are certain factors that you must consider. This article will help cover all you need to know before taking your wheelchair out on the road.
How To Take Your Wheelchair to Road?
Before getting too excited and taking your wheelchair outdoors, there are a few steps that you will need to be mindful of. You must consider following through with all these steps (mentioned below), or you might need some help.
Registering your wheelchair with the DMV is the most important part. If your wheelchair is not registered, then, unfortunately, it cannot go out on the roads. Subsequently, you will have to reach out for a license plate or a handicap placard for your powered wheelchair. Not only will this show that your wheelchair is registered, but it will also help you in other ways. For instance, you will be allowed immediately on the mobility device user’s lane if one exists. Or may help you find a parking spot too!
Once you have the wheelchair registered, we suggest getting your powered wheelchair a little service. This is not completely necessary but definitely for good measure. The last thing you want to do is breakdown or have a flat tire in the middle of traffic, especially if you are mobility impaired. You can check the tires, brakes, battery, and steering mechanism. By doing this, your road journey in the wheelchair will be trouble-free. Additionally, always make sure that your batteries are fully powered and recharged! If you don’t, then you might be stranded on the road.
Next up is planning your route. You will need to look up the wheelchair-friendly lanes. This way, you can avoid fast roadways as well as highways. Ultimately, you will be saving yourself from an unfortunate and unwanted accident.
Lastly, going out on the road means packing for the trip. Other than your necessities, pack extra batteries for your electric wheelchair. This way, if your wheelchair runs out of power in the midst of the traffic, you can change the batteries.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Taking Your Electric Wheelchair On the Road
Electric wheelchairs are a great option for road journeys for a number of reasons. They are, first and foremost, far more transportable than standard wheelchairs. Second, they are now simpler to transfer in a vehicle or RV. Third, they can slide into small passages because they are smaller than normal wheelchairs.
Long-distance travel is a great use for electric wheelchairs. Compared to conventional wheelchairs, they can go significantly farther. For example, they can easily go up to 12 miles on a single charge. Consequently, you may go farther without pausing to refuel your motorised wheelchair.
In addition, taking your wheelchair on the road will allow you greater independence and mobility. You will not have to depend on anyone else for your outdoor tasks. You will be able to do it yourself!
To sum it up, these are the pros of an electric wheelchair on the road:
- They can travel for longer distances
- They can travel faster
- You can easily avoid crowded places
- They offer greater mobility
- You can go for the electric wheelchair lane when driving
Unfortunately, with all the advantages comes the cons. There are certain disadvantages to taking your electric wheelchair on the road.
For one, it will be a lot more expensive. Between vehicle registrations, adding side mirrors or other requirements, and regularly or weekly service your wheelchair, there can be quite a heavy cost. Moreover, repair of any component of the wheelchair will also be pricey.
Of course, we have to note the speed of electric wheelchairs. Even the fastest electric wheelchairs and scooters can only travel about 15 mph (28 km/hr). This slow speed might make it difficult for you to keep up with the traffic. That may make other people on the road annoyed when you take too long to get out of the way.
Furthermore, the whole procedure of getting registered with the DMV and getting a license plate can be exhausting. It will require a tedious amount of waiting and bureaucracy, which may not be worth the hassle.
Lastly, it is a possibility that your electric wheelchair might not be able to handle the terrain. This might damage the wheelchair, leading to yet another costly experience of getting it fixed.
Should You Take Wheelchair on the Road?
Just because you CAN take your wheelchair on the road (if properly registered) does not necessarily mean that you SHOULD take your wheelchair on the road. In most areas, there are plenty of options such as sidewalks, walking paths, or other designated lanes for wheelchairs that does not require putting an electric wheelchair actually on the road with other vehicles. However, if you are determined to do it, then it can be done, albeit with some hoops to jump through.
It only depends on your personal preferences on if you want to take your wheelchair to the road or not. The US law certainly allows electric wheelchairs to be on the road if they meet all requirements and regulations. After that, it is up to you if you want to avail yourself of the experience of being on the road. Certainly, doing so has several advantages and disadvantages, but you must weigh them carefully! Safe travels!