October 17, 2017 at 2:57 PM
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) are standard vehicles that have been modified for wheelchair access, encompassing a variety of cars, vans and buses that can make all the difference in helping mobility. In WAVs, the wheelchair user can ride as either passenger or driver without being transferred from their wheelchair. Choosing a WAV involves a consideration of a whole host of features — through powered lifts and access ramps — made easy at Premier Mobility.
Choosing a WAV
When choosing a WAV it is worth distinguishing between two basic varieties on offer: those for drivers and those for passengers. Generally speaking, a car kitted out for a wheelchair user to drive is more expensive as it requires a host of custom fittings, features and controls to enable independence. Access points will also have to be more rigorously considered, as wheelchair users will need to be able to transfer themselves in and out of the car without help. Conversely, passenger cars are far more common and variable.
They are designed both for the carer and the wheelchair user and include a variety of entry, fastening and exit features. As such, there is a lot to consider when buying a WAV. If you cannot be transferred easily from your seat or your carer is unable to lift you, then a WAV is ideal. Before choosing your vehicle, you will need to think about the height and breadth restrictions regarding wheelchair size, the quantity of wheelchairs, number of additional passengers and so on, the route and frequency of travel, the kind of heating systems, extra space, storage and, overall, your budget.
WAVs, like any other vehicle, come in all shapes and sizes. After considering the size required of your WAV — small, medium or large — you can now set about looking at features. The features you will most have to consider are the methods of access, the kind of vehicle conversion and the experience of travel from inside the vehicle.
Ramps are by far the most common means of entering and exiting a WAV. Although they are normally operated by hand, you can also consider automatic ramps operated by a button. Lifts are also often considered if you need to be able to access a vehicle independently (where a carer cannot push) or when the vehicle is just too large (ramps need a smaller gradient). These are of course more expensive but work effectively in cars with multiple wheelchair passengers. When choosing your access type, consider the physicality and ease on you, the wheelchair and the carer.
Most WAVs have a specially lowered floor to provide adequate headroom. This can make a ramp less steep. You will need to think about the effects of driving and suspension. You will also need to consider the breadth of conversion required on the vehicle to make it wheelchair ready.
Travelling inside needs to be both safe and comfortable. This primarily revolves around fastening systems and restraints, but you also need to consider your carers dexterity and access inside. Automatic belt systems are ideal here or if you have limited space. Furthermore, restraints need to be considered against weight. Lastly, you need to consider additional space and storage. Your wheelchair will need to fit without difficulty or too much tightness. Often, a WAV is designed with a particular wheelchair in mind, making a change in the wheelchair difficult.
With these concerns in mind, purchasing a WAV may be daunting, but we are here to help you make the right decision for you.