Driver and Passenger Information and Advice

Selecting and Purchasing a Vehicle

Buying a major item like a car calls for many considerations; finance, model of car, automatic or manual etc. For a disabled driver attention to the specifications and features of a vehicle is all important for accessibility.

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The information presented here has been gathered to support people when selecting and purchasing a vehicle. It is recommended that this information is drafted into a personal checklist. The use of a checklist would ensure that all driving / passenger needs are met prior to purchase i.e. that people can physically transfer in and out of the vehicle, vehicle controls can be used with ease etc.

There are many choices of vehicles in this category. Explore all the options by getting quotes from the different adaptation companies as prices can vary significantly. Additionally, a number of companies also sell second hand vehicles in this category.

Click here for a list of companies whom sell second hand accessible vehicles »

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Vehicle features to be considered by disabled drivers

Manual or Automatic vehicle

People may have preferences for driving either a manual or automatic vehicle. Drivers who go through the assessment process will be advised individually as to the best automation choice for their ability.

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Useful Tip when viewing a vehicle

When going to view a car bring a towel or cloth to prevent a wheelchair rubbing or scratching against a new vehicle.

Vehicle Doors

The design features of a two/three door cars gives people significantly wider doors and therefore more room for transfers. When testing a vehicle ensure that the:

  • Vehicle doors can open wide enough
  • Vehicle doors are easy to reach in order to close
  • Door frames are high enough to allow ease of access
  • Door sills are not too high or too wide for ease of access
  • Door catches are accessible and easy to use

Vehicle Seating

Seating in a vehicle varies across the different models. Consideration needs to be given to the:

  • Height of a vehicle seat A low seat may preset difficulties in accessing a vehicle where as a higher seat gives people ease in motion in entering and exiting a vehicle.
  • Seats controls Ensure that the seat controls are easy to use, particularly if frequent seat adjustments are required in completing transfers.
  • Shape of the seat Ensure that the seat gives full support.

Vehicle’s Steering Wheel

Consider the following steering wheel features when viewing a vehicle. Assess the:

  • Weight of the steering wheel The weight will vary from model to model. Generally, lighter steering is more suitable for drivers with disabilities.
  • Steering wheel grip Ensure that the wheel can be comfortably gripped.
  • Steering wheel features i.e. lights, indicators, wipers and horn. Ensure that all these features are accessible.

Vehicle hand brake

Ensure the handbrake is accessible and can be easily used.

Vehicle’s seat belts

Ensure the seat belts can be secured and opened easily.

Stowage of equipment

As many disabled motorists use wheelchairs or mobility aids stowage of equipment needs to be considered when purchasing a vehicle. The stowage space needs to meet the requirement of both space and ease of access. Often vehicles with deep boot sizes have narrow boot openings which can cause extreme difficulties for people who want to store their wheelchair in the boot.

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Vehicle features for disabled passengers

Wheelchair accessible vehicles are designed to enable a wheelchair passenger to access a vehicle and travel while seated in the wheelchair. Most vehicles in this category provide wheelchair access by ramp or a lift at the side or rear of the vehicle.

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Generally, these vehicles are converted from MPV’s (Multi Purpose Vehicles) or vans. It is recommended that people should contact adaptation companies to discuss:

  • Height of the passenger
  • Ramp gradient
  • Requirement to use lift instead of ramp. Often people who feel the gradient of a ramp is too steep will choose to have a passenger lift fitted.
  • Seating arrangements and space for able bodied passengers
  • Ability of passenger to see out of the window
  • Ease of a driver parking and driving the vehicle, this may be relevant in case of bigger type vehicles

There are many choices of vehicles in this category. Explore all the options by getting quotes from the different adaptation companies as prices can vary significantly. Additionally, a number of companies also sell second hand vehicles in this category.

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Vehicle Adaptations

People may require their vehicles to be modified in order for them to drive or to be carried as a passenger. Adaptations can be made to a vehicle to meet the needs of drivers and passengers with disabilities.

Diver adaptations that are frequently fitted include:

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  • Hand Controls which allow people to operate the accelerator and brake pedals with their hands
  • Adapted controls that facilitate the use of gear stick, hand brakes and car keys
  • Left foot accelerators which facilitates people who cannot use their right leg
  • Steering balls which facilitate steering wheel grip
  • Infra-red controls which facilitate the use of secondary controls e.g. lights ,wipers, horn etc

For drivers with a higher level of physical disability, a variety of high tech adaptations are now available which include joy sticks for braking and accelerating.

Passenger adaptations included:

  • Swivel seats
  • Passenger lifts
  • Ramps and lowered floors
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Adapation Companies

There are a number of companies nationwide who carry out adaptations on vehicles for passengers and drivers.

List of vehicle adaptation companies »

Vehicle Insurance

All good consumer advice will encourage people to shop around for the best deal. The Insurance Federation of Ireland encourages disabled drivers and passengers to lodge a complaint in respect of any dissatisfaction they may have with a motor insurance company. Contact Details:

01-6761914
www.iif.ie

Disabled Driver and Passenger Relief Scheme

Changes in the interpretation and the administration by the Revenue Commissioners of the legislation relating to the Disabled Driver and Passenger Tax Relief Scheme are to be implemented from the 1st January 2012.

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