A Guide to Understanding Cars & Vehicles for the Handicapped
Driving with a disability doesn't have to be a chore because there are several modifications that you can make to your vehicle.
Whether you are looking into adding accessible products to a car you already own—or are specifically doing research into vehicles that come readily equipped with what you need, driving with a disability is more attainable than you might think.
Below we'll dive into information related to cars for the handicapped, how to get the modifications you need, and other pre-driving planning you'll need to know.
Get an Understanding of Driving With a Disability
Keep in mind that there are laws and requirements at play when it comes to driving with a disability.
Understanding ADA compliance for parking lots is one thing, but you need to also understand the ins and outs of driving with a disability.
Here's what you'll need to get started.
1. Enroll in Driving School and See Which Vehicle Modifications Are Needed for Your Disability
If you're driving with disabilities, you need to first and foremost make sure you know which facets of your disability you will need help with in order to get behind the wheel.
You will find this out when you enroll in a driving school near you. Before you can become officially licensed in any state, you will need to pass both a written exam and complete your driving hours to complete the full test.
Before your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will let you behind the wheel of a car to take the test, they'll need to secure one that is equipped to serve your disability needs, meaning, a vehicle with a ramp and lowered floor, if you are driving from or regularly use a wheelchair or a vehicle that has other adaptations like hand controls.
For best results, schedule an appointment so that you can get an ideal time slot and make sure that your local DMV branch has a vehicle available that you can use.
2. Get Disabled Driving Lessons to Get Used to the Equipment
To improve your chances of passing the exam, you should log some time with a converted vehicle. If you are located in an urban environment, there will be driving schools in your area that will let you become accustomed to driving with these modifications.
Once you find out the exact specs and modifications of the car you'll be driving for your behind-the-wheel test, several practice sessions will help you pass the exam. It's often required to log some time with the vehicle before you can be eligible for the test.
3. Pass Your Exam
In order to get licensed, you'll need to show that you can drive a modified vehicle. After you pass your exam you'll be in a position to pass the test with flying colors.
Be sure that you get a good night's sleep prior to your driving exam and run through a checklist of all the points that the instructor will key in on.
Modify Your Vehicle or Shop for the Handicapped Vehicle That You Need
Now that you are familiar with the prerequisites for obtaining your disabled driver's license, it's time to assess your current vehicle and your needs.
The next step in gaining driving freedom is to start looking into vehicle driving modifications. Should you adapt your current vehicle or buy a new or used converted vehicle?
Here are a few points of info that you will want to keep in mind as you are making this decision:
1. Be Sure That The Vehicle Passes All the Prerequisites If You're Going to Modify It
Not every vehicle can be made into an accessible vehicle.
In fact, you'll want to do some preliminary research so that you can make sure your vehicle is able to be adapted.
Some of the main things you should keep in mind include ensuring that your vehicle has an automatic transmission, power seats, and power steering. Older vehicles are also not accepted by manufacturers for conversion. When at all possible, use a newer vehicle so that you know you can get plenty of miles out of the modifications.
2. Understand What Modifications Are Necessary
There are significant accessible modifications made to a vehicle in order to make it a fully-equipped accessible conversion. However, there are some smaller, cost-efficient modifications you can try first.
Some of the main modifications that you'll want to focus on include extending and adjusting the seat belts, lifting and lowering the wheel, adding driving hand controls that let you easily access the gears, wheel, and brakes, transfer seat lifts that help you get in and out of the vehicle, and push-button ignition systems that are easy on your hands and fingers.
Consider exactly what modifications are useful based on your disability, and research what is best for you.
3. Study the Disabled Driving Laws
Always stay up to date with the laws when it comes to modifying your vehicle or buying a modified vehicle.
Your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other organizations all have their own requirements when it comes to driving disabled.
You may even be able to take advantage of some credits or tax cuts that can help you buy a new vehicle or modify an existing one so that you can get on the road. Make sure that you continuously follow the laws of the road and make sure that all of your modifications and mechanisms are taken care of.
If you are modifying an existing car, take care when choosing the company to install the modifications. Ideally, you want to choose someone who has previous experience in these modifications so that you know they will be done correctly.
Look Into Purchasing Cars for Handicapped
Technology today allows you to enjoy the benefits of driving regardless of what sort of disability you have. By following the guidelines above, you can be on the road in comfort and style.
We would be happy to help you with any vehicle modification needs that you have. Click here to learn more about our trade-in process.
Check out our owners' manuals and information, and don't hesitate to give us a call at 1(888)365-9417.
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