A wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) is a vehicle that has been modified for use by individuals using wheelchairs. Vehicle modifications typically include ramps or lifts for ingress and egress, adaptive controls to allow driving from the wheelchair, specialized hardware to secure the wheelchair to the vehicle, and a system for protecting the wheelchair occupant in a crash that is compatible with wheelchair use.
Aside from enhancing the independence of wheelchair users, WAVs also improve their quality of life by removing barriers to transportation that would otherwise prevent them from accessing employment and engaging in recreational activities. WAVs are meticulously designed and inspected to ensure that all aspects of the vehicle meet stringent standards for wheelchair accessibility and safety.
The most popular and best-selling wheelchair-accessible vehicles are full-size vans, which provide ample space for the occupant and the driver’s wheelchair. Wheelchair users can either drive the vehicle from their own wheelchair, or be transferred into a driver’s seat with a transfer system that includes a swivel base and remote control. The swivel base can be moved up and down, side to side, and forward and backward. The wheelchair can be secured in place with a system that includes wheelchair tie-downs and lap or diagonal wheelchair restraints.
While a full-size wheelchair accessible vehicle is usually the most affordable option, smaller models are becoming increasingly popular for those who prefer to travel in comfort and style. Smaller wheelchair-accessible vehicles are also easier to maneuver in tight spaces, making them a great choice for city driving. Those who wish to avoid the expense of a full-size model can also find plenty of quality wheelchair accessible vehicles in mid-sized sedans, which offer comparable comfort and convenience for less money.
Regardless of which type of vehicle is chosen, it’s essential to work with a mobility dealer that is reputable and has a proven track record of customer satisfaction. Ask the dealer for references from previous customers and review their reviews on Google and other reputable websites. Look for a certified member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), which is an industry leader in advocacy and quality standards.
The best wheelchair accessible vehicles are a combination of comfort, functionality, and safety. The Dodge Entervan by BraunAbility is a good example of a vehicle that is easy to drive, has an excellent turning radius, and allows the wheelchair occupant to sit up high for visibility. The vehicle also features a rear-entry system, which makes it simple to enter and exit, requires little extra maintenance, and can fit into any garage.
A Mustang convertible may not seem like the obvious choice for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, but for those who want something sporty and fun to drive, the Ford Mustang is one of the most popular choices in the world of WAVs. The Mustang offers a front-wheel drive and a manual transmission, which will allow most wheelchair users to operate the vehicle. While it is more expensive than many other models on this list, the Mustang’s sleek design and low insurance rates make it a solid investment.