In selecting a vehicle lift to help transport a wheelchair or scooter, what you select depends on whether you will be in the driver seat or you will be the driver for another passenger. Many people with disabilities are able to maintain their independence on the road with the proper adaptive equipment that is correctly installed in the right vehicle.
To drive safely, you will need equipment that allows you to get in and out of the car by yourself, such as lifts, ramps, and power transfer seats, as well as manage the vehicle with devices such as reduced effort brakes and steering systems, a left foot accelerator, and mechanical controls.
Determining the Proper Adaptive Controls
Whether you are able to get in and out of the car and drive independently depends on your physical and mental abilities. Whether you are a new driver or someone who drove before an accident or physical condition impacted your driving abilities, will need an evaluation by the state-approved Driver Rehabilitation Specialist to help determine what modifications you need for safe driving. An evaluation will consider:
- Your coordination and reaction time.
- Your muscle flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
- Your ability to make judgments and decisions.
- Your ability to drive after adaptive equipment is installed.
The evaluator will offer useful information about the type of wheelchair or scooter vehicle lift and other adaptive equipment you need, as well as about the type of vehicle itself. Once you have the equipment installed, your evaluator and the equipment dealer will help you practice driving and learn to operate your equipment to make you feel at ease.
Choosing the Right Vehicle Lift
In order to get in and out of the car by yourself, you will need a vehicle lift. If you are planning to control the car from your wheelchair, you may need one that is designed to raise an occupied wheelchair to the proper height via hydraulics or electronic relays. The lifting device will be attached to the frame of the car, which has been reinforced for greater strengths. The controls should be easily accessed from within the car or via a small remote on your keychain.
Once you are raised to the proper height, you should be able to move your wheelchair into a driving position and secure it so you do not slide out of position. If your chair or scooter will be stored elsewhere in the vehicle, there will be easy-to-manipulate chair lockdowns available.
Another alternative for vehicle lifts when you are driving is to have the type that lift your chair or scooter under the front door of your vehicle and place it in the bed of your truck. The seat that you have transferred onto will lift you into position for driving.
Help When and if you Need it
For help in deciding on the best type of vehicle lift for you or a loved one, talk to the professionals at Western Stair Lifts, who are experienced in installing vehicle lifts and other adaptive equipment to your home and car.