Can I Drive A Vehicle From A Wheelchair?
For people living with a physical disability, driving a car was once considered impossible or off limits. But thanks to developments in technology and engineering, driving from a wheelchair or even with reduced mobility is now possible and becoming increasingly popular!
The ability to self-drive, has helped many of our clients’ overcome feelings of isolation and helplessness and enabled them to participate actively and independently, and be included in their community again. If you’re looking to take back control of your life, and get into the driver’s seat of your very own Wheelchair Access Vehicle (WAV) – read on to find out how:
The first and most important step is to contact a qualified Driver Assessing Occupational Therapist as their input is critical in determining your ability to drive.
Getting Into Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
How you access your vehicle is the first and most important consideration. Are you able to self-transfer into the vehicle or will you remain in the wheelchair? Where will the car be parked – on the street or in a garage, and how will this potentially affect your entry and exit options?
Depending on your unique needs and preferences, we can offer two ways to get into the driver’s position: a rear ramp or driver side entry. Here’s what you need to know about each option:
Rear Entry Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Our Rear Entry Drive from Wheelchair conversion allows you to remain in your chair the whole time and may include the following features:
- Power tailgate system – open and close the vehicle’s rear door with the touch of a button
- Ramp access system – an electronically operated ramp for easy access into the car
- Boarding & departure winch – to help manual wheelchairs enter the vehicle, 160kg max.
- Hook-I PAWRS – to assist with loading a heavier wheelchair via the rear ramp, 250kg max.
Note: a rear entry vehicle may not always the right choice for your circumstances – read our blog on Side Vs Rear WAV’s for more info.
Driver Entry Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
If you have the ability to self-transfer in and out of the vehicle, a Driver Entry WAV could be a good option with the following features:
- Turn out seat base – the driver and passenger seats rotate out through the door and lower to a suitable height so you can transfer in and out easily.
- Power transfer seat base – provides 4 or 6-way seat adjustment to give you ample space during your entry and exit.
- Side steps – helps reduce the height between the ground and your seat or the vehicle.
Keep in mind: you may still need assistance to store and access your wheelchair or mobility aid when entering and leaving the vehicle. It’s also important to consider whether a Driver Entry is a good long-term option too. If your condition is likely to change over time you may want to look at a Rear Entry instead. Read Christine’s story for a good example of this.
Drive from Wheelchair Vehicle Features
Once we have worked out the best way to get you into the WAV, we can focus on the operation of the vehicle. Depending on your individual requirements, we can install a range of hand and voice controls to assist with this.
Hand Controls For Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
Thanks to innovations in technology, not having the use of your legs is no longer a barrier to activities like driving a car. There are a number of hand control options available including:
- hand accelerator and brake – hand levers replace foot pedals, so you simply push or pull to accelerate or stop.
- steering wheel fixtures – similar to what you often see on large trucks, steering wheel aids can help make turning the wheel easier and lighter.
Voice Controls For Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
Hey Bertie, turn on the hazard lights!
While voice controls won’t give you the ability to steer, accelerate or brake, they can still be included as secondary support for the quick and easy operation of things like the indicators, lights, wipers and windows. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if more audio controls were introduced to conventional cars in coming years…
Before you can get behind the wheel, you’ll need to obtain a conditional driver’s licence. Have a read our quick guide for more info and some handy tips to make every journey in your WAV a safe, comfortable and fun one.
Why Choose Us for the Best Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
A Drive from Wheelchair conversion is a big investment, and you may want to shop around for the best value or a good deal. While there are numerous WAV providers around, please remember; you get what you pay for!
Here’s five reasons why Automobility stands out from our competitors:
- Experience – founded by a passionate Automotive Engineering consultant, Automobility has been in operation for 20+ years, so we have tonnes of first-hand industry experience and knowledge.
- Best Quality – our conversions undergo countless hours and many months of thorough research and development from a team of engineering, fabrication and trimming experts, before going out to market.
- Testing & Compliance – our WAVs go through the most rigorous testing processto ensure they meet all Australian Safety Standards and requirements. Read more in this blog.
- Safety – in addition to our top-quality manufacturing and testing procedures, we offer a range of additional safety features such as our docking station, wheelchair restraints, head and torso support.
- Service – there’s no one-size-fits-all Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, which is why we prefer to work in partnership with our clients to understand their situation before recommending a tailored solution.
Technology has removed barriers and restrictions in many areas of our lives, providing new opportunities, greater control, conveniences and innovations like being able to drive from a wheelchair.
If you’d like to get behind the wheel in one of our Drive from Wheelchair WAV’s – call 1300 660 773 or use the ‘Get in Touch’ form on the website and one of our Mobility Consultants will give you a call.