A working vehicle and leisurely driving are often taken for granted by those who are not disabled. For this reason, it can be hard for those who have disabilities to find and afford a vehicle that meets their needs.
As we know, many people with disabilities are still able to drive and want to do so. A lot of auto companies and insurance companies don’t take this into consideration enough when designing vehicles or setting up insurance plans for their drivers. That said, if you want to drive and are in need of an adapted vehicle, you may have trouble going about it. Hopefully, some of these tips will help.
Can You Drive?
If you want to legally drive by yourself, you will need an adapted driver’s license. Make sure to check with your physician to see if you can drive first, as they are experts and may know best about your capabilities, given your situation. Your physical condition and psychological health are of the utmost importance.
If you have your physician’s go-ahead, you’ll have to pass required medical examinations and take the normal driver’s tests to determine if: a) you can get a license and b) what restrictions your license may have. You will want to take the on-road portion of your drivers’ test in an adapted vehicle if you can. So if you do not have access to an adapted vehicle, now may be a time to look into purchasing or obtaining one.
Buying vs. Adapting
You will either need to buy a vehicle that was built to adapt to your needs or adapt a non-disability specific vehicle to do the same. Which one is better is for you to decide, but it may be wise to look at the cost, time and effort involved with both.
The Roadmap to Buying
Organizations like United Access specialize in getting people with disabilities adapted vehicles, and they partner with some of the bigger auto manufacturers in doing so. Through them, you can get vehicles of all shapes and sizes by the likes of Honda, Dodge, Chrysler, and Toyota. These kinds of organizations can help you find used adapted vehicles as well.
Using services similar is a good idea and may be easier than going through your local auto dealer, due to the sensitive nature of disability vehicles and how many viable options you may have. If you’re choosing to opt this route, check out not only United Access but Freedom Motors and Mobility Works as well.
The Roadmap to Adapting
Even though just about any kind of car can be adapted, the most wheelchair-friendly cars are adapted vans. To adapt your van to be more wheelchair friendly, you’ll have to start thinking about what way you want to enter the van (the rear, the side, or the front). Other adaptations, such as driving aids, may also be considered.
Once you’ve decided the best way to do this, you’ll have to face the biggest downside to it: installation. If you have a local auto shop that specializes in wheelchair ramp installations and the like, you’re in luck! If not, you may have to travel. United Access has mobility centers in Missouri, Texas, and Illinois, A&M in Montana offers similar services, and Mobility Works has options in 24 states.
Covering the Aftermath
The financial aftermath of something like this is serious business (no pun intended). According to NHTSA.org, sometimes auto insurance will cover this, sometimes they won’t, but it’s worth a shot. Before you get insurance or an auto loan for a specialized vehicle, you need to make sure your credit’s in a good spot.
Do your best to get insurance before obtaining a vehicle (you can’t drive until you have it), but even more importantly, make sure that you get the right kind of insurance. If your insurance won’t cover these, you may be able to write some of them off as medical deductions on your taxes as well.
Do you have any advice on obtaining a wheelchair-adapted vehicle? Let our readers know in the comments below.
Image credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons