If you’ve recently become a wheelchair user, don’t assume that your driving days are over. Cars and vans are regularly modified to accommodate wheelchair users while ensuring safe vehicle operation. A number of adaptations on the market today can make driving not only possible, but also a pleasure.
Accessing the Vehicle
One of the primary concerns that wheelchair users have is how to enter and exit the vehicle. Solutions range from the simple to the sophisticated. First, be sure that the doors on your vehicle are wide enough to allow you to get close to your seat. Once you’ve lifted yourself into position, you can use a board, lifting belt or leg lifter to move your legs inside the vehicle. A rotating seat cushion can also help with the transition.
If you are unable to lift yourself in and out of your wheelchair, you may need a larger vehicle than can accommodate a ramp or wheelchair lift. These devices, frequently added to vans and minivans, allow you to enter the side or rear of the vehicle while you’re still in your chair. You may also benefit from additional modifications.
Depending on your disability, you may find some or all of the following devices useful once you’re in the driver’s seat:
- Hand controls for accelerator and brakes.
- Pedals moved to accommodate the stronger leg.
- Steering wheel knob or driving joystick.
- Larger adjustable mirrors for better visibility.
- Support cushion and seat cover for comfort.
- Adjustable seat belt and restraint for safety.
Some wheelchair users struggle with where to store the wheelchair or scooter while they are driving. Most cars can be fitted with a lift platform that will hold the mobility device securely while the car is in motion. This makes it easy to take your customized wheelchair wherever you go.
Modified van image via Shutterstock.