Accessibility is something that more folks could stand to consider and incorporate into their designs. Often, there are struggles for those of us out there who navigate with wheelchairs or other similar devices that the rest of the world just doesn’t even think about. One of those is finding vehicles that are wheelchair accessible.
Here in the United Kingdom, that can be an even bigger challenge. Since a lot of folks don’t drive every day, the market for cars and other vehicles like vans is just smaller than it is in a place like the United States (as just one example). So, it can make second-hand shopping even more troublesome.
Now, there are certain laws and specifications in action to help protect us in the public sphere, but these won’t always apply in the private sector. That’s why it is often placed into our own hands to find a vehicle that we can safely traverse the world in. If you’d like to learn more about how we can locate these types of automobiles (especially without having to pay a fortune for them), then make sure to keep reading.
What Qualifies as “Wheelchair Accessible”?
There are a lot of questions that we can ask going into this process, but one of the most relevant is this one: what actually counts as wheelchair accessible? It’s a bit difficult to put a pin on, but we’ll be doing our best to explain it.
In the past several decades, the United Kingdom has made efforts to make the country as a whole more accessible. There are many legal documents outlining this, and when you check travel and tourism guides, we rank fairly highly. All of this is to say that there is a fair amount of attention paid to these issues here.
Something to keep in mind is that handicap accessible is not the same as wheelchair accessible. There are different guidelines there, so if you are ever uncertain about a destination, it may not hurt to call ahead to ask. Anyhow, though, one of the biggest qualifiers for wheelchair accessibility is to include a ramp somewhere that is easy to get to and in good functioning order.
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the main features of new and used wheelchair accessible vehicles, though the location of the ramp can vary. Other things that you will likely see include wider hallways and entryways (or wider doors on the back of a van), specialized tables that allow for easy stopping, and signs that denote the “accessible” status.
When we say “ramp,” though, it’s more of a small incline. There are two different types of options most of the time – either rear entry or side entry. Each has its own pros and cons.
When we think of a “classic” design for vehicles manufactured for those in wheelchairs, this is typically what first comes to mind. They’re made with wide doors at the back or a hood that can lift up and unfold a ramp and/or incline. From there, it’s simply a matter of wheeling up into the vehicle.
The floor of the car isn’t lowered in these cases, which allows the person to be a passenger from the second row (from the central channel). The biggest thing to keep in mind here, though, is that it’s better suited for wheelchair users who travel with a caregiver of some sort. They can’t be operated alone, so that can be tricky if you live independently.
The other option available is a side entry vehicle, which you can read a bit more about on this page. With these, there are special doors on one or both sides of the vehicle and the floor is lowered to ensure that navigating inside is as easy as possible. Depending on the one that you get, the owner is usually able to drive them rather than having to rely on someone else.
However, the owner can also sit in the second row if they’d prefer. If you live in an area that has a lot of parallel parking (or if that’s not really a concern for you), then it might be the right fit.
Is it Safe to Get a Second-Hand One?
Another thing that concerns many folks is the matter of getting a second-hand automobile. We hear horror stories of used car salesmen and the like, and it gives the entire market and industry a bit of a bad reputation. With that said, let’s face it – getting an accessible car isn’t exactly cheap.
Why not save a few thousand dollars by getting one second-hand? Although it might sound surprising, there really aren’t many drawbacks to doing so. While this is a United States site, https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/adapted-vehicles, it does offer some valuable information about what adapted vehicles look like so that you can be a prepared shopper going into the process.
Now, when shopping for a used vehicle, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind. When you go on site to inspect it, pay close attention to all of the features. Check the brakes and ensure that they work, test out the windshield wipers, and ask questions about how many miles is on it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with shopping this way, and it can save you money, but it does take some thought and preparation (just like shopping for new cars).
Something else that you’ll want to think about is that there are somewhat limited availabilities when it comes to wheelchair accessible automobiles. Most likely, you’ll need to keep an eye on what the stock is in your area by checking out local mobility vehicle sellers. Thankfully, though, they often upload their stock online.
You can also call to ask what options you have, so that’s helpful. Really, you can talk to customer service any time that you need it – it can be easy to forget to prioritize our needs and specifications at times, after all.