If you are a person with disabilities and don’t yet have an accessible vehicle, it’s difficult to know where to start. You’ve worked with your doctor and therapist, maybe even a certified driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS), but they don’t know your budget, your preferred car or van, or where the nearest mobility dealer is.

Your medical team will help, of course, but you have homework to do:

1. Set a budget

How much can you afford to pay for a new or used van? Figure in the down payment, monthly payment, insurance, gas and an estimate for yearly maintenance. Look for rebates, grants, loans, etc. to help reduce the price tag.

2. Research, research, research

Your doctor or therapist may recommend necessary adaptive equipment, but there may be other equipment you’d like. Check out the many options available now.

3. Testing, testing

If you can, test drive different vehicles at the mobility dealership to get the feel of spaciousness, ease or difficulty of loading, driving and parking, etc.

As you narrow the choices down, you might want to rent your top choice for a weekend or week-long trip. Time on the road will determine if the make and model are right for you.

4. Ask yourself these questions

  • Does it fit lengthwise and width-wide in my driveway or garage?
  • Is there space enough for the ramp or lift to deploy?
  • Can I easily reach and work all the controls?
  • Is the seat comfortable?  (Like your favorite chair at home—can you sit in it for hours and still be comfortable?)

There are many factors to consider that you may not have thought about until you test drive several candidates.

5. Find a mobility dealer

Go to www.nmeda.com and click on “Dealer Locator” for an expert in accessible mobility needs nearest you. NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program members are required to follow guidelines written in accordance with motor vehicle safety standards, and professionally managed quality control practices that advocate the highest level of performance and safety. They also provide 24-hour service to their customers.

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