When searching for a handicap accessible vehicle there are several important factors to consider. These factors can contribute to the independence of a wheelchair using driver or passenger and can reduce the stress of travel for all passengers. Shopping for a handicap accessible vehicle can be an overwhelming and complicated process. The following is a list of four key points to look for when buying a handicap accessible vehicle.
1. Side or Rear Entry
This is a significant decision to make. Side entries can work for driver and shotgun seats whereas rear entries are easier for wheelchair users that ride in the second row of seats. Side entries can also be more expensive than rear entries and this may have an effect on your ultimate decision.
2. Lift or Ramp
Next, you need to decide how you will be able to get both yourself and your mobility device into the vehicle. Ramps can be easier to store than lifts because of their small size and can also be used in smaller vehicles for this same reason. Lifts generally need a van or other large vehicle for support and take up more room in the vehicle. Battery powered ramps and lifts and both have the risk of running out of battery power when you need them to work, but manual ramps are difficult to maneuver and use regularly.
3. Unique Modifications
After you have figured how you are going to get in your car, it is important to determine what additional items might make travel easier. Rearview cameras can prevent excessive twisting to check behind you especially when pulling out of a tricky parking spot. Swiveling heated seats may allow you to comfortable transfer from your wheelchair to the driver’s seat even for long drives. Darkly tinted windows can reduce photosensitivity during the day and at night when headlights will be glaring. Consider what would make you most comfortable and then try to find a way to implement it in your new vehicle.
Buying a handicap accessible car or van can get expensive quickly. Before you go into any dealer have a general understanding of how much you can afford to put down and what you can afford to pay each month. Take notes on competitor’s prices on key features so that you can be sure to get the best bargain. Lastly, have a list of your priorities in terms of modifications. Entries, ramps, and lifts take first priority after that your personal preferences take precedent. Decide which of your needs are most vital. Do you need dark tinting more than you need a satellite radio? Ask yourself these kinds of questions beforehand so that you have a clear idea of which modifications are deal breakers and which you can do without. You may be eligible for grants to help you finance your accessible vehicle purchase.
The most important step when buying any vehicle is to do your research. There is a wealth of information on the internet regarding mobility options so compare between dealers as well. If you are not quite ready to buy your own car but still have places to go and people to see consider a taxi service called UberWAV or Lyft’s Accessible Vehicle Dispatch. These services can help you get from point A to point B and even to and from car dealerships during your shopping process.