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Wheelchair accessible vehicles are commonly referred to as ‘WAVs’ – which are essentially vehicles that are designed to accommodate the travel needs of passengers or drivers using a wheelchair. WAVs make lives easier and safer with the main benefit that you can remain seated in your own wheelchair without the need of wheelchair to car seat transfers.
— SCOTT SPENCER, Founder of WAV Compare
Purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a big decision, there are several different types of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Deciding which one would be best for you will depend on your individual needs and requirements, comparing just the price is not the answer. However we hope the following guide provides all the information you need to help find your perfect WAV. Keep reading to discover how WAV Compare can assist you to find your perfect wheelchair accessible vehicle.
A WAV is a vehicle that has been built or modified to allow access by a person in a wheelchair. For many wheelchair users, the act of transferring from their chair and into a normal car can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, or dangerous. With a WAV, you can enter into the vehicle seated safely and comfortably in your own chair.
There are three main types of WAVs.
Passenger WAVs. In this type of vehicle, the wheelchair user is a rear travelling passenger. They enter the vehicle in their wheelchair using a ramp/tail lift, through a rear or side door. The wheelchair is then secured in place using wheelchair restraints.
Driver WAVs. This type of WAV enable the wheelchair user to drive from their wheelchair. These vehicles usually have been modified with adaption controls to meet the capabilities of the driver.
Ride Up Front. This is an increasingly popular type of conversion. These WAVs have the wheelchair user position ‘up front’ next to the driver in the traditional position of a front passenger.
This will depend on what you want to do with your wheelchair accessible vehicle. A small WAV has room for the driver, one wheelchair user, and sometimes one other passenger. These are ideal for running around town as they are economical and easy to park. If, however you want to carry more passengers or lots of luggage, you will need to look for a larger vehicle. Remember to take into account where you will be parking the vehicle and if its suitable to fit in your garage, on your drive or on the road.
Whether you are going to buy a vehicle that is already converted or have a custom
conversion done there are several basic things to consider when choosing a suitable WAV
It’s always worth considering whether you would need a manual ramp or an electric tail lift. Although wheelchair chair accessible vehicles with ramps are made to be lightweight and simple to open/lift, it may be more suitable for some to have an electric opening ramp or tail lift that opens via a remote.
Rear entrance WAVs are more common than side entrance ones. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Rear entry gives you space behind the vehicle to deploy the ramp or lift for access this is good for bay parking but when parallel parking there is always the possibly someone else has parked close to the rear. Side entry is usually more desirable able and is good for when parking on a large drive but isn’t always suitable when parallel parking as the ramp usually cannot be used on the pavement, meaning the wheelchair user would need to enter the side on the road, where there could be could be oncoming traffic.
Frequently the floor of the vehicle is lowered to make the ramp access easier. This means that sometimes the size of the fuel tank is reduced. If you live a long way from a petrol station this could be a problem.
Internal transfer WAVS are modified to allow the wheelchair user to pass easily from the wheelchair into the driving seat. They then stow the chair in the vehicle.
Drive from wheelchair WAVs allow the user to control the vehicle directly from their wheelchair which enters into the driving position through either a side or rear door and locks down behind the steering wheel.
Have you checked the measurements?
We recommend to measure the wheelchair user whilst in the chair
You can then check the measurements with the dealer/seller as photos don’t show an accurate size of the vehicle, always allow some extra space.
Majority of manual/push-wheelchairs fit into wheelchair accessible vehicles but It is always best to check all measurements.
Electric wheelchairs tend to be larger than manual wheelchairs.
They also tend to be heavier in weight, so it is essential to know the measurements as well as the weight of the chair with the wheelchair user in.
You will need to check before buying that the vehicles ramp/lift weight capacity is suitable.
The Vehicle measurements we recommend to measure are
This is to ensure all points of entry and internal space are suitable for the wheelchair passenger to enter and travel comfortably.
If the vehicle is a drive from it is also import to check what locking system is used for the wheelchair to be secured into place as they aren’t universal. Locking systems will only work if compatible with the wheelchair.
Some vehicles are adapted so that the wheelchair user can transfer via swivel seat from their wheelchair to driver seat.
Please note: We always recommend that you to view a wheelchair accessible vehicle in person before purchasing, whether you have a manual or electric wheelchair you should always check the vehicle is suitable in person..
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