When we think of finding resources to help manage healthcare issues, we often think of doctor’s appointments and medical equipment. But even those with medical issues that impact every part of their life—such as those that hinder one’s mobility—will tell you that life is more than the doctor’s office.
For these individuals, having a vehicle they can get into and out of is essential to managing their condition. But a resource is only of value to those with the necessary information about it. Here is what to know about wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
What Is a Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle?
As the name suggests, a wheelchair-accessible vehicle is one with special alterations that allow wheelchair users to access and use it. Unlike standard automobiles, it usually has added features that make it safe and functional for wheelchair users to enter the vehicle, ride as passengers, and even potentially drive it. There are multiple types of vehicles that can be wheelchair-accessible, including:
- Public buses
All these vehicle types even come in popular car brands, such as Dodge Grand Caravans. Although vehicles may have unique features that will improve the ride experience for drivers and passengers, some features are consistent across all vehicles.
Necessary Features of a Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle
Ramp or Lift
Getting into and out of a van is the biggest challenge wheelchair users face. As such, no wheelchair-accessible vehicle is complete without a ramp or lift. Ramps extend from the back passenger door—automatically or semi-automatically, depending on the vehicle—and are ideal for lighter chairs. For those in a heavier chair or scooter, a lift will hoist the wheelchair user or the chair into the vehicle.
Getting a user to the door isn’t enough to make it accessible. If a passenger or driver is in their chair when they get into the vehicle, their clearance height must be much higher than other users. This can make typical vehicles that have lower ceilings both uncomfortable and unsafe for wheelchair users. Because of this, these types of vehicles usually have higher ceilings or lower floors and better clearance for the doors.
Safety Features for Wheelchairs
You wouldn’t ride in a car that didn’t have seatbelts. Likewise, you wouldn’t use a van that wasn’t equipped to secure a wheelchair in place. These devices usually come in the form of straps built into the floor that attach to the back and front of the wheelchair’s bottom. They also act as seatbelts.
Every medical condition comes with its own challenges, and you need to meet each challenge differently. By having what to know about wheelchair-accessible vehicles in your back pocket, you will be able to meet a plethora of these challenges head-on.