Are There Cars for People With Disabilities?

People with disabilities on sidewalk.

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Individuals with disabilities can find cars that fit their needs. Driving is critical to independence, especially in areas with limited public transportation. Therefore, finding ways to manipulate cars or provide options for everyone despite their situation is vital for inclusivity. You can discover what the auto industry is doing to help make vehicles more accessible and how that impacts populations worldwide.

What Does an Accessible Driving Look Like?

Whether you’re a seasoned driver or a newcomer, you must understand how driving feels before knowing what you’ll need to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Classes exist to help people with disabilities experiment and see the opportunities of accessible cars. After the experience, it’s easier to pinpoint the needs and wants of an ideal vehicle and gets used to the technology.

If you use a wheelchair, you may have found cars where it’s easy to transition from the chair to the car — or don’t require leaving the chair at all — but it needs alternative control options that don’t utilize the legs. Every person’s driving experience will differ, and priorities will weigh differently with how your regular driving schedule will look.

The best resources for drivers are federal regulations and nonprofits. Here are the authorities that have resources for how to drive, so you can pass driving tests and remain safe:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

What is the Best Vehicle for People With Disabilities?

There are two ways to get a disability-considerate vehicle. Some makers have models specifically designed for particular conditions. However, a new car might be out of the question if you already own one — instead, you can find ways to modify it for your circumstances in more ways than just pure performance from a car enthusiast. These cars must follow guidelines and support the various features that people with disabilities may need, including but not limited to the following:

  • Keyless ignitions and doors
  • Low-to-the-ground entry
  • Adjustable pedals or hand controls
  • Automatic transmission
  • Enhanced and easy-to-access safety features

SUVs are usually the best car option for people with disabilities because space allows for more comfortable movement and space for adapting the vehicle. These makers are creating cars for people that work well, and anyone going to a dealer can always ask questions about accessibility to review possibilities with a professional:

  • Toyota, like the Yaris
  • Dodge, Like the Grand Caravan
  • BraunAbility, like the Entervan
  • Honda, like the Odyssey
  • Chevrolet, like the Silverado
  • Volkswagen, like the Caddy

If the car is maintained and free from collisions and accidents, the acquisition should be worth it for many years.

What Assistance Is There to Get an Adapted Vehicle?

Obtaining or outfitting a car for people with disabilities requires adjusting expectations. There will be several obstacles and financial hurdles, but they are all manageable. Depending on your choice, you could purchase an already-adapted vehicle off the lot, or buy a car and invest in adjustments over time. Both options can be pricey, but systems are in place to alleviate those burdens.

For Americans, federal tax credits can help fund an adapted vehicle. Medical-related expenses such as transportation to and from doctor appointments and installing wheelchair lifts, for example, can also be considered tax-deductible. 

Testimonies from physicians can help people with disabilities potentially receive the whole vehicle as tax-deductible, but if not, some makers offer rebates that can further unload financial stress.

Providing Transportation to Everyone

The more advanced and malleable cars become, the better they will suit people with disabilities. In the meantime, there are ways for everyone to drive and board vehicles, with technology becoming more intuitive and adaptable. These will help everyone stay on the road confidently, never fearing they will lose the ability to travel independently.

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