About 10% of the global population or 650 million have disabilities and it is estimated that 10% of them require wheelchairs, allowing them to live and travel independently. A primary concern for independent travel, however, is the use of car hire vehicles. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a companion, there are some aspects of car hire that you must take into consideration to ensure your safety and comfort.
- Confirm the Vehicle’s Accessibility
When renting an accessible car, it is essential to find out if there is access for a wheelchair user such as a ramp or a lift. Not all vehicles are equipped with these modifications so it is vital that you check with the rental agency before getting one. It’s a good idea to test the ramp or lift before leaving the parking lot to make sure that you can manage to get in and out easily.
- Check the Restraint Systems
Everyone’s safety is important and even more so if wheelchair users are going to remain in their assistive devices during a trip. Check that the restraint system is secure before going off for a test drive. Wheelchairs are secured using manual tie downs attaching the adaptive equipment on four points of the floor. Another option is to use wheelchair docking systems where your chair is automatically locked in once you move to the spot where the system is located. In both cases, you must also restrain yourself using the seat belt of the car.
- Look at Size and Storage Space
You might also prefer to sit up front in which case, there must be enough room for you to sit comfortably and unimpeded. There must also be adequate space to store the luggage or belongings of passengers. If you’re going for long road trips, space is important for your comfort and safety. Moreover, you might also want to bring along cool car gadgets to make driving smooth and easy. For example, a GPS navigation system that also receives messages is convenient as a wireless tire pressure monitoring system. In these instances, having enough space in the car for your devices help make your trip super relaxed.
- If You Want to Drive Yourself
While it is not common for rental companies to provide modified vehicles for you to drive, there are some that offer adaptive driving devices. These include hand controls, spinner knobs or accelerator extenders. Make sure to inquire beforehand if you intend to drive yourself as a person with disability. Renting a vehicle to accommodate the needs of wheelchair users is stress-free if you plan well. Checking a rental car’s accessibility, safety, space and size beforehand will help for a smooth journey.