My Anxiety Makes Your Wheelchair Van Safe

You probably can’t be too paranoid about safety when it comes to your kids, but my wife would tell you that I come close.

We have three kids under the age of four. Making sure they avoid disaster is a never-ending, anxiety-filled job. One is perpetually “climbing walls” as Spiderman, and another is just learning to walk. I’ve been known to pad the edges of brick fireplaces so they don’t crack their heads on the edge, fasten car seats so tight it takes a group effort to unfasten them, and I’m always suggesting we keep all three on leashes when we’re in a busy public place.

That anxiety over making a wheelchair van safe enough to ensure my kids’ safety came in handy when designing our Commercial Entervan and Entervan XT wheelchair vans for the 50 mph rear-impact crash test, as required by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration). My in-laws have been driving a Braun Entervan for the past 15 years, and they’ll probably upgrade to a Chrysler Entervan XT in the near future (complete with multiple DVD screens to keep the kids entertained of course). Knowing my three small children would be passengers in this van definitely motivated me to make sure it meets and exceeds federal safety standards.

The 50-mph rear-impact crash test is especially challenging for lowered floor handicap minivans. When the floor is lowered during the conversion process, the fuel tank is moved from the center of the vehicle to the rear. It was our engineering team’s responsibility to ensure that the fuel tank was protected and not leak at all.

Well, when the day of the crash test came, my anxiety was at a level comparable to letting my three kids run free during the Indianapolis 500. Of course, the van passed. The ADA and Rear Entry vans, as well as the new Entervan XT, have all passed the 50 mph rear-crash testing well before NHTSA’s deadline of the fall of 2009.

Now I can breathe a sigh of relief when my in-laws start the process of ordering their new Entervan and focus on my new anxieties – like covering our built-in bookshelves with plexi-glass so our in-house Spiderman doesn’t try scaling any walls!