Adapting Your Minibus/Van for the Disabled Driver

Difficulty with mobility should' t always stop you from driving

Even if you are disabled there is often no reason why you cannot still drive. There are lots of ways that a disabled driver can have their vehicle adapted to accommodate their needs, while still being perfectly safe to use.

Typical examples of ways that a vehicle or car adaptation can take place include installing specially adapted mirrors, adding a rotating seat for the driver to use, and having a steering wheel with an integral knob that allows for easier steering. Of course there are many other ways to make alterations to a vehicle too; it all depends on the needs of the individual driver as to what will be required.

What about the Motability Scheme?

This is an excellent way to get a car to suit you if you get either the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement or the Higher Rate Component of the Disability Living Allowance. This part of your income can be put towards a new vehicle that will be ideal for you. In some cases this might be better than adapting your current vehicle or buying a new one that you then have to adapt.

You can find out more about the Motability scheme by going online to visit the Motability web site.

Is it possible to buy wheelchair accessible vehicles?

Yes it is, and they are often referred to simply by their initial letters – WAVs. You will see many larger vehicles and vans that have an integral wheelchair lift included. Ricon is one manufacturer of such lifts and it might be worth finding out more about them if you want to add a wheelchair lift to your current van or vehicle.

The good news is that you can usually buy all kinds of vehicles that already have these items built in, such as Ford Transits, VW's and even Mercedes vans. Alternatively if you are looking to buy a vehicle and then get the required car adaptation equipment fitted afterwards, you should always make sure you find out whether the required items can indeed be fitted to that particular vehicle.

How about getting a minibus that will cater for disabled people?

This is easy to do if you know where to go. There are various suppliers of Ford, IVECO and Mercedes minibuses that have high roofs and wheelchair lifts at the rear too. The right vehicle can cater for lots of disabled passengers, depending on how many seats and seating areas it has.

Selecting the right car adaptations for driving

Companies including Ricon and Techmobility provide all kinds of adaptations to make driving easier – and indeed possible – for all manner of disabled drivers. The key is to consider whether you need upper or lower body assistance when driving.

For example upper body assistance may require an automatic transmission, so you don’t need to worry about changing gears. Lower body assistance may mean installing a semi-automatic clutch. This gives you the use of your gear stick as usual, but there are no pedals to worry about.

As you can see there are lots of things you can do to make driving easier for the disabled. The key is to check whether you are better off buying a ready designed vehicle for your needs, or to install your own choice of car adaptations for the disabled driver inside your existing one.