If you or a loved one rely on a wheelchair for mobility, you know how important it is to have a vehicle that can accommodate your needs. Whether you’re getting your first wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) or thinking of making some modifications to your existing vehicle, there are some important aspects to consider to ensure your safety and comfort. In this blog post, we’ll discuss five things to consider with your wheelchair accessible vehicle.
1. Wheelchair or Car Seat?
When deciding on wheelchair accessible modifications for your vehicle, you’ll need to decide whether you prefer to stay in your wheelchair for the journey or transfer to a seat within the vehicle. At Auto Extras, we offer conversions for either option. If you prefer to travel in your wheelchair or scooter, a wheelchair loader will make your transition from van to ground (and back again) as easy as possible. Another option is a lowered floor, which allows you to drive straight into the vehicle. For simpler conversions, and those who prefer to travel in one of the vehicle’s existing seats, transfer aids are offered. The Milford person lift and tip-up plates can both be installed into even the smallest two and three-door vehicles. For larger vehicles, another option is turny seats that swivel and extend past the vehicle door frame.
Whether you’re parking at home or out, you’ll need extra space to park your wheelchair accessible vehicle. The amount of space required will depend on your modifications and whether you choose to travel in your chair or transfer. Generally speaking, though, you’ll need to allow at least three meters of space at the point you enter and exit the vehicle.
When your car has been converted for a driver or passenger with a disability, it can often be hard to find insurance coverage. This is due to insurance companies not understanding disabilities and instead considering WAV owners to be high-risk drivers. Often though, drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles are safer drivers and present a lower risk. Finding the right insurance company that understands this is key. Check out Blue Badge Insurance and Allianz Insurance for tailored insurance packages for your wheelchair accessible vehicle.
As with any vehicle, it’s important not to skip out on any maintenance. Many customers are proactive with initial modifications to their vehicle, but are often lacking when it comes to regular maintenance. A thorough service for a modified vehicle will check wheelchair docking services, mobility driving aids, ramps, steps, and handrails, as well as all the standard vehicle components like suspension, wheel alignment, and fuel lines. Wheelchair restraints generally have four mounting points, and automatic or manual retractors. It’s important to service these regularly, along with the tracks or discs the retractors are mounted on.
If you rely on a carer or support worker to transfer or drive your car, you’ll need to make sure they know how to use all the modifications. At Auto Extras, you’ll receive a full rundown on how to use all your modifications. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have with any of your modifications.
In conclusion, a wheelchair accessible vehicle can provide freedom and independence to those with mobility needs. By considering these five aspects when choosing or modifying your vehicle, you can ensure that your vehicle is not only safe and comfortable but also meets your specific needs.
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