What is a Mobility Vehicle?
A mobility vehicle, also known as a Wheelchair Accessible Van (WAN) is a car used by a physically disabled person, with modifications made in the car, such that he/she can get into the car with ease; sit as a passenger or a driver, all by themselves without help from anyone.
This enables them to live an independent life just like any of us, with confidence on themselves. The seating arrangement is in such a way that the physically challenged person can get into the car with the wheelchair and drive, or enjoy the ride, sitting in the rear seat.
With several modifications that can be custom made in the mobility vehicle, there are several factors which need to be taken care of, according to the convenience and usage of the specially challenged person.
Types of Cars for Mobility Users
The Toyota Avalon has always been the most favored car among mobility users due to its wide cabin space. 2013 remodel of this car makes it even more attractive with more features such as wider seat adjustments and even wider cabin space than before. It also comes with a bigger trunk, which can enable the mobility users to carry their mobility scooter.
The Toyota Prius also comes with wider cabin space, offering more comfort to its riders. It has an advanced feature of low-effort steering which enables riders with lower upper body strength. It also has the feature of Keyless ignition, for people with arthritis for whom it could be painful to start the car using a key.
The Toyota Prius-V is the best pick in this category. It is also a fuel efficient car with a 40mpg capacity. Its cabin is a very quiet and peaceful space, due to the noise-free engine. It provides a good suspension, thus giving almost no shock while riding on bumps and bad roads, thus protecting people from spinal cord problems and enabling safe travel.
The Scion xB is a boxy style car and has been a popular choice among mobility users. It has the provision of a side ramp that can be fanned out and the disabled person can enter the car and exit without any difficulty. It also comes with several other customization options which give a personal touch to the rider. The only disadvantage with this vehicle is it has a low roof height, which is inconvenient for taller wheelchair users.
Minivans are often known for their bigger cabin space than other cars and a decent fuel economy.
The Toyota Sienna is an outstanding model in this category. It is the only vehicle in this category to offer an all-wheel drive. It is automatically accessible seat enables the rider to turn it by 90 degrees and get down from the car or get inside. Its height can also be lowered up to 19 inches from the ground.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is one of a vehicle which offers a unique facility of high roofing for taller wheelchair users, which is not offered by many mobility vehicle models. This model also offers a good mileage compared to its Ford and GM rivals.
Ford’s Transit Connect is another good Boxy model with taller room for heightened wheelchair users with a very wide interior space.
4. Full-Size Vans
Full-size mobility vans are a greater option for larger wheelchair users or for those in highly powered chairs. These vehicles offer the widest space than any other type of mobility car.
5. Other Vehicles
Other popular mobility vehicles are Kangoo from Renault, Chrysler Voyager, Citroen Berlingo, Kia Sedona and Doblo from Fiat. These are relatively smaller cars but are accompanied with similar features.
While each type of mobility vehicle has its own advantages and disadvantages, it is always better to do a minor research about each type and choose the best possible car, according to a mobility user’s convenience.
Vehicle Modifications for a Mobility Car
A normal car can be converted into a mobility car by performing certain modifications. There are two options to consider in this, either the mobility user is the driver or the passenger who sits in the rear seat and travels. The following modifications are made in the car, for the two options.
- When the disabled person is the driver
- Lowering of a portion of the floor for convenience.
- Seating is modified in such a way that, the wheelchair can be fixed instead of a seat and later changed back to normal.
- The car is modified to receive 5 stars from National Highway Transport Safety (NHTSA), which means, it is a safe car to travel.
- When the disabled person is a passenger
- Installment of a ramp for moving inside the car.
- Reinforcement of the floor according to need.
- Accessories for tying down the wheelchair are installed.
How to Get a Free Mobility Car?
These cars are obviously expensive, as they have been remodeled to a great extent to provide comfort and ease to a physically challenged person, to drive a car like any others. As it is not possible for everyone to afford a mobility car, there are certain ways where you can get a free car in the United States, and you can remodel them according to your needs.
1. Keep Your Necessary Information Handy
Keep a list of necessary paperwork and proofs readily in hand, as to why you need a car, your list of medical records and prescriptions, a list of reasons as to why you need a mobility car, proof of your everyday expenses and living and your economic condition. With all these proofs in hand, you can request for a free mobility car from the US Government.
2. Free Charity Cars
There are several organizations, which accept old cars from people and donate them to those who are in need of them. There are certain criteria to be eligible to receive a free car from them.
- You must be a citizen of the United States, presently living in America.
- A sufferer of domestic violence, and because of which there is a major handicap.
- Someone who needs medical help for a lifetime.
- A victim of any natural disaster that struck the US such as a tornado or hurricane
- Living in a mobile shelter home
- Living below the poverty line
- A member of a family from which a person is actively on military duty.
You can apply online, in the Free Charity cars websites by creating a profile and collecting votes from people by explaining why you really need a free car. If you receive the maximum votes, you will be provided with a free car.
3. Contact NGO’s
There are many NonProfit organizations that have a policy of donating free cars to people for whom it is needed. You can check their websites for such policies. Even if there is no free car donating facility, you can receive a car for a low cost.
4. Contact Churches
Many people donate cars or other utilities to churches, as they can claim a tax write-off. You can contact the church and explain them with your necessity and check for any such offerings so that they can donate that car to you.
5. Talk about Auto Mechanics
You can check with the auto mechanics of your locality, to check for remodeling of cars at low cost, as they would be specialists in such techniques.
Mobility Schemes in Other Countries
In countries like the UK, there is a special scheme run by the Government, known as “Motability Scheme” which gives loans and allowances for a disabled person to purchase a mobility car.
Like a popular saying, ‘It is not the disabilities, but the abilities that count’. Hence, never tie down your emotions, and explore the beauty of life, by taking a road trip in your latest Mobility car.