Believe it or not wheelchair and scooter users are involved in hundreds of accidents each year worldwide. For those of us who use a wheelchair or power scooter outdoors face increased risk when we need to get across streets or ride where cars frequent. This is no different than joggers, walkers, bike riders, and others that interact with moving vehicles. Nighttime safety for wheelchairs and scooter users should be learned, especially for those who venture out after dark.
Because wheelchair users are lower in terms of height than say someone jogging or walking it makes seeing a wheelchair user a little more difficult. Combine that with the darkness and things can get real dangerous quickly if we let out guard down.
The combination of being lower to the ground, moving faster than a walker, and dark roads can make accidents during nighttime can certainly make things more dangerous.
Dangers of nighttime wheelchair travel
Lack of being able to see as far and as clear as daytime travel just adds more of a danger to traveling at night while on a wheelchair or scooter. Once you leave the safety of the sidewalk things can get much more dangerous.
Car lights can only light up so far in front and when these lights are not properly maintained visibility can further be diminished.
Dangers you could face:
- Falling off curbs
- Getting hit by a vehicle
- Getting strainded because of a unproper maintaned wheelchair or scooter
- Tipping over
Wheelchairs and mobility scooters aren’t the norm in the dark
Unlike a bike or someone walking or jogging the outline shape of a wheelchair whether manual or electric is not the norm to a driver. The fact that the outline shape of a wheelchair is not something a driver is always accustomed to seeing can also make using a wheelchair at night more dangerous.
For users that do use their wheelchair at night a lot still do not use the proper reflective devices or lights. Couple this with dark clothes and things become really dangerous for the wheelchair user and more difficult for the driver to see the wheelchair or scooter user.
Wheelchair manufacturers make wheelchairs mostly for daytime use and lack the proper devices to use at night. But for those that do use a chair at night or who plan on using a wheelchair or scooter after dark, you can make things safer.
How to use a wheelchair or scooter at night safer
Certain wheelchairs are designed for outdoor use. When using a wheelchair or scooter at night you will want to be aware of your surroundings and also the surface conditions that may not be so wheelchair friendly.
- Dress in white or light color clothes: If you know you will be out in the dark make sure to dress in light or white color clothes. Dressing in black or dark clothes will definitely make seeing you in the dark extremely difficult. Simply wearing a white shirt can dramatically increase your visibility.
- Reflective stickers: Add reflective stickers to the backrest and armrest sides of the wheelchair. When a car light hits this reflective tape it will light up showing the driver you are there.
- Add a flag on a taller pole: Adding a flag with reflective tap is also another great way to make you visible while in darker conditions. The height of a flag pole can be seen further aletign drivers to your wearabouts quicker.
- Flashing lights and or flashlight: Having flashing lights or utizling headlights if you are in a scooter is another great way to get noticed fast in the dark. Flashing LED lights that are run on a small double A batteries are lightweight and cheap to pruchase.
- Make suer your wheelchair or scooter is maintained: It is important when outdoors and away from home that your wheelchair or scooter is properly maintained so breakdowns or other safety concerns happen in the dark or daytime leading to beeing stranded far from home.
Our final thoughts on nighttime safety for wheelchairs
Using a wheelchair at night has its challenges especially for those who have to navigate roads and get off the relative safely of sidewalks when traveling.
The fact that it is just harder for vehicles to see a wheelchair user makes it more dangerous than in the daytime hours. However, with certain actions, you can make using the wheelchair or scooter at night safer.
Be sure to wear light color clothes, use reflective tape, and LED lights when possible. These will allow drivers and others to see you easier while it is dark out. Scooter users that have headlights should always use them when darkness falls to light up the path you are traveling.
Utilizing these tips can make traveling at night on your wheelchair or scooter safer for everyone.