Vehicles which have been converted for use by wheelchair users are known as ‘Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles’, or WAVs. If you use a wheelchair or travel frequently with someone who does and you’d like to learn to know more about the options available to you, here’s a brief guide to WAVs.
What is a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle?
WAVs are cars or vans that have been specifically modified or built with the wheelchair-user in mind. There are four primary types of WAV.
- Passenger only WAVs: These cars are designed for people who are either cannot to or do not want to travel in a driving position. Their design varies tremendously from small cars through to MPVs. Some are designed to accommodate users who wish to travel in the rear of the vehicle as a passenger, and some are built to allow one to position themselves as the front seat passenger.
- Internal or drive-from-wheelchair WAVs: The second and third types of WAVs are intended to be driven by the wheelchair user. Some are designed to allow internal transfer from chair to driver’s seat, and others permit one to drive whilst seated in a wheelchair.
- Trike-style WAVs: The final type of WAV is a motor-trike. The rider accesses the vehicle by using a rear ramp and then drives the vehicle from their wheelchair. Conversions are available where the rider is able to transfer to the driver’s seat whilst their wheelchair is carried elsewhere in the vehicle.
What type and size of WAV to choose
Your choice of WAV will depend on two primary factors. Firstly, you’ll need to choose a vehicle that will do the job you want it to do. For example, if you want to drive from your chair and you also have family members that you’d like to carry as passengers, you’ll need a fairly large vehicle. If there will just be you in the vehicle, you’d be better opting for something smaller that will be cheaper to run and easier to manoeuvre. Once you’ve decided what sort of conversion suits your needs, you can decide on what make of vehicle you like the most.
Other things to choose from include rear or side access options, ramps, winches or vertical lifts, electronic or manual tie down for the chair, manual or automatic transmission, and any additional driving controls or adaptations you might need.
There are many options to choose from when deciding what wheelchair accessible vehicle to purchase. You might want to consider renting one for a short term trial before you commit to buying something outright.
Image source: premiermobilitycars.co.uk