A Segway can be a great way for seniors to get around and have some fun. If you are wondering are segways safe for seniors? Let us discuss.
Yes, like any vehicle, segways can cause accidents and injuries. Segway requires good balance and stability and standing for a prolonged period of time. Seniors should be able to see well enough to scan the terrain ahead of them as Segways are vulnerable to debris and abnormalities in the road or pathway.
Segways are only recommended for older adults who are in good shape and do not have the vision or balance issues.
If you are 65 years or older, you should have no problem riding a Segway if you
- are physically fit for your age
- can climb stairs without a handrailing
- have no problem standing for a prolonged period of time
- have good balance and vision
- have the ability to judge terrain ahead and make the judgment to avoid bumpy terrain
Physically fit and active seniors can ride the Segway with enough practice. It is also important to wear proper safety equipment, follow safety tips and pay proper attention to the road during riding a Segway.
5 Reasons Segways Can Be Dangerous for Seniors
To answer the question “are Segways safe for seniors?”, it is important to highlight the reasons why and when Segways can be dangerous for seniors.
1: Segways Require Self-Balance
These are two-wheeled vehicles that require the rider to self-balance the device like cycles and bikes. Segways have sensors and technology to stay upright and provide balance and it is much easier to maintain a balance on a Segway as compared to a bicycle. Deep slopes or uneven paths can disturb the balance and cause an accident.
2: Segways Can Tip Over
Segways are ideal for smooth roads and paths. Small gradual inclines are not a problem but deep slopes, debris, potholes, and other road abnormalities can cause a tip-over and result in an accident.
3: Segways Can be Difficult to Ride for Some Seniors
Riders have to distribute their weight properly to control a Segway. Leaning forward increases speed and sometimes riders may end up going too fast unintentionally. There is no brake as braking is applied by leaning backward.
It is important for seniors to practice at a slow speed and avoid sudden fluctuations in speed by learning to use their weight.
Segways are seen as fun vehicles but they travel faster than a bike (up to 12.5 mph). They can tip over easily if they encounter debris or bumps so it is important to keep the speed under control. They can be difficult to steer at high speeds and accidents at high speeds are critical.
5: No Licensing/ Safety Regulations
One of the main reasons for Segways accidents is the fact that most states/ countries do not have licensing or regulatory schemes to impose safety. Many US states do not require riders to wear helmets and other protective gear. People do not take Segway safety seriously and treat Segways as toys.
Proper safety gear, training and attention while riding a Segway can save seniors from any major accident or fall.
7 Famous Segway Accidents
Segway’s sensitivity to road hazards and lack of safety measures contribute to unexpected accidents. Here are some of the notable Segways accidents that were caught on cameras and make people wonder if Segways are safe for seniors.
- Former US president George W Bush fell off the Segway in 2003. Although he was not wearing any safety gear, he managed to keep his balance.
- Segway’s owner (Jimi Heselden) died at the age of 62 after riding a Segway off a cliff into a river.
- Usain Bolt of Jamaica was hit by a cameraman on a Segway after winning 200 meters race at World Championship at National Stadium in Beijing in 2015.
- Joe (a Segway cameraman, covering a cricket match in Melbourne) did not see a helmet and fell. Luckily, he was fine after the incident.
- Cricket commentator Ian Healy tried a cameraman’s Segway which was not the best idea and proved a bit more difficult.
- US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres fell off a Segway backward while rehearsing for her monologue. She quickly assured the crew she was all right.
- US police officers in Idaho test out their new Segway but the first attempt did not go well and resulted in a viral video.
Luckily, most of the above accidents did not cause any major injury but they show how seniors and others should not take Segways as toys.
7 Segway Safety Tips for Seniors
The reason for most Segway accidents is that people do not take Segway safety seriously. The injury rates can be mitigated if riders take proper training and use safety equipment.
So, if you ask “are Segways Safe for Seniors?” the answer also depends on the safety measures seniors take for a Segway ride.
Here are 7 safety tips for senior Segway riders.
1: Wear a Helmet
Always wear a helmet as accidents at high speed can result in head wounds and brain injuries. Although Segway recommends that all riders wear helmets, only 17% of riders use helmets according to a study by Washington University.
2: Wear Other Protective Gear
Knee pads, wrist guards and other protective gear can save you from any major injury in case of any incident. You can order protective gear from Amazon.
3: Ride on Smooth Terrain
Avoid steep slopes, steps, slippery surfaces, wet grass, snow, or ice. Only ride on a smooth surface.
4: Adjust Handles
Before the ride, make sure the handles are adjusted for your height. Check the vehicle is in Balance Mode. Grip both hands firmly on the handlebar.
5: Remain Attentive
Look for debris and other obstacles. The wheels are wider than the platform so watch out and do not run one wheel off the sidewalk. Do not play with your phone when riding the Segway.
6: Limit the Riding Speed
Do not overspeed even if the path is clear. Segways can tip over easily and it is not easy to steer them at high speed. Do not accelerate or stop too fast.
7: Use Responsibly
Do not tilt the handle to step on or off when the machine is in Balance Mode, it may bump into someone. Do not step off a moving Segway. Keep both feet stable on the platform during the ride.
It is also important to know how long can you stand upright to keep the timings of your rides accordingly. Remember to duck when going under an object like a doorway because you are taller when riding a Segway.
So, are Segways safe for seniors?
Yes, Segways can be a fun, unique and safe way for touring, traveling and moving around for seniors if seniors follow the basic safety rules and
- Are physically fit for their age
- Have no vision/ balance/prolonged standing issues
- Have proper training before the ride and remain attentive during the ride
No, if seniors have the following issues
- A decline in vision, attention and stability
- Problem with standing for a long period of time
If a senior is physically fit to ride a bicycle or motorbike, they can manage a Segway easily after a few lessons. It can be a fun way for many older adults to move around and manage mobility issues.