Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a major step towards independence for people living with disabilities. Although riding or driving a wheelchair accessible vehicle is an exhilarating experience, especially for those previously limited, it is important to understand mobility equipment options to ensure every passenger’s wellbeing. Accessible vehicles typically accommodate two types of seating options: transfer seats and wheelchair tie-downs.
Individuals who have the ability to transfer into a driver seat rather than drive from a wheelchair typically use transfer seats. There are a wide variety of transfer seats available and many of the seat bases are electronically controlled so you can move the seat up and down, side ways and forward and backward.
For those unable to transfer from their chairs, WC19 compliant wheelchairs – Wheelchair Tie-Downs and Occupant Restraint Systems are recommended. These wheelchairs are specially designed and tested for use as motor vehicle seating, with four, crash-tested securement points at which the chair can be easily attached to the vehicle using straps and hooks.
Even if you do not own a compliant chair, it’s still possible to securely attach your wheelchair to your vehicle. Always be sure to check with your wheelchair’s manufacturer and Quality Assurance Program dealer before making any changes.
Seatbelts and Restraints
Always secure seatbelts while traveling in wheelchair accessible vehicles. Appropriate safety restraints are not only the law; they can also prevent major injuries in the event of crashes. Be sure your seatbelt is securely and properly fastened across your chest, shoulder and pelvis.
Your wheelchair accessible vehicle can open countless doors in the way of independence, however it’s still important to keep safety at the forefront of your mind. Practice these simple tips and get on the road to safer trips.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.