January 12, 2018 at 6:09 PM

Choosing a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) is similar to buying a standard car in that you will have a number of considerations to factor into your decision making process.

What size of vehicle do you need? What make and model should you go for? One of the key choices you'll need to make is whether you opt for a rear entry or side entry vehicle.

Although it may seem that both entries serve the same purpose - getting a wheelchair user in and out of the vehicle - they have different benefits and drawbacks.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REAR ENTRY AND SIDE ENTRY VEHICLES

The primary distinction between rear entry and side entry WAVs is the point of entry. As the names suggest, side entry vehicles make use of the sliding side door, whereas rear entry versions use the back of the vehicle.

Ramps are most commonly used to bridge the gap between the road and the vehicle. When choosing the entry point of your wheelchair accessible vehicle, there are some questions you should consider:

  • Who is going to be driving the van?
  • Where is it going to be parked most of the time?
  • Do you need a lot of storage space?
  • How many people do you need to transport?

With this is mind, make a list of your vehicle requirements and you might find that the choice will be quite easy depending on the specific benefits of rear entry and side entry vehicles.

REAR ENTRY WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES

The most outstanding advantage of using a rear entry vehicle is its accessibility from driveways, garages and non-disabled parking spaces. You can still squeeze into tight multi-storey car park bays without trapping the wheelchair user in the vehicle because they enter via the boot area.

While rear entry WAVs do provide more parking options, parallel parking is not really one of them because you need more space at the back to set up the ramp. It's also important to acknowledge that the wheelchair passenger will be loading and unloading into the flow of traffic most of the time unless you're at home.

Rear entry vehicles can fit larger wheelchairs which often comes at the cost of the storage space. In order to accommodate the equipment to enter from the back, a lot of the boot area is compromised. However, this doesn't obstruct other passengers entering from the side of the vehicle.

If the wheelchair user themselves isn't going to drive and doesn't want to sit in the front passenger position, then a rear entry WAV is possibly the best choice. In many cases, they're also cheaper because most of the floorplan and vehicle structure doesn't change during the conversion process.

On the downside, rear entry vehicles are typically limited to four passenger seats to make space for the wheelchair. On the other hand, they do tend to have additional ground clearance as a result of being raised in the back for the ramp, making it easier for them to get over speedbumps.

Volkswagen Caddy Maxi - Best Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle - Rear.

SIDE ENTRY WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES

Wheelchair users that want to drive their own WAV will need to choose a side entry vehicle because the seats in the front are on bases that are removable. Even if you don't want to drive, you can still sit in the front passenger seat position.

Usually, side entry vehicles have a lower floor conversion which gives everyone greater headspace and allows for more ramp and lift options to be fitted so that you can get the best one for your needs.

Entry from the side means that the boot space remains completely in tact, so there is a larger storage space in side entry vehicles. They're also able to transport up to five passengers - with the wheelchair user stationed at the front.

The biggest drawback of a side entry WAV is its accessibility from parking spaces. Using a designated disabled spot is a must so that you have enough space at the side to deploy the ramp or lift; however, parallel parking remains an option.

Wheelchair Access Vehicle Rear or Side Entry

Our experts here at Premier Mobility Cars will be able to advise you on the best WAV for your needs whether it's a rear or side entry vehicle. Call 01634 716 911 to speak to a member of the team, or search our wheelchair accessible vehicle stock online today.


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Category: Buying Guide