For persons with disabilities or mobility challenges, the use of personal mobility aids (PMAs) grants them an opportunity to lead an active life. PMAs refer to wheelchairs – manual as well as motorised – or mobility scooters, which are typically used by the elderly or people with mobility issues to commute more easily.
In light of recent news of a supposedly able-bodied individual who modified a PMA (LTA confiscates woman’s pimped-up PMA with shelter after she keeps riding it on road), SPD’s occupational therapists and assistive technology specialists highlight some of the safety concerns that could result from unguided or unlawful modification of these devices:
- Add-ons which are not installed by a qualified technician may cause a short circuit or fire when the device is charging
- Add-ons which use the PMA’s battery drain the battery faster, hence user may not have enough battery to get to the destination
- Adding on too much weight may cause the PMA to be unbalanced, and increase user’s risk of falling especially when going over uneven surfaces
- Adding on too much weight may also cause the PMA to be overloaded and have mechanical failures
- Adding a shelter on top of a PMA may block user’s rear-view vision, increasing the likelihood of accidents
- Modifications to the speed of the PMA may cause the motor or battery to heat up and break down
- Driving above the permissible speed limit stipulated by the Land Transport Authority may result in inability to apply brakes in time to avoid obstacles; PMA may also be confiscated when discovered
- Voiding of vendor warranty
Users should also note that PMAs are not allowed to be used on roads. However, they can be used on shared paths such as park connector networks and cycling paths, as well as footpaths. While riding on foot and shared paths, users should ride in an orderly manner, and keep a look out for pedestrians and other PMA users.
Let us all play our part by riding responsibly and safely to keep ourselves and others safe.