Top tips for choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) Part Two
There are a number of factors to think about when you’re selecting a WAV to make sure that the vehicle you choose is as suitable for your needs as possible. In the second part of our ‘top tips’ series, you’ll find information covering the different seating options available, as well as safety matters and space considerations. You may want to check out Part One in our series of top tips on choosing a WAV .
One of the key differences between cars and WAVs is that a WAV enables the wheelchair user to remain in their wheelchair without the need to transfer to a car seat. Usually a wheelchair user travelling in a WAV is seated behind the front seats or towards the back of the vehicle. If you want to sit elsewhere there are other options, such as sitting beside the driver, but these will cost more. If you have a seating preference make sure you speak to your WAV supplier before having your demonstration as they’ll be able to advise if it’s possible and if there would be an added cost. If you sit at the back of the WAV as a wheelchair user, it’s worth checking whether you are able to see out of the windows and hear other passengers easily during the demonstration.
It is also worth thinking about whether a partner, parent or carer will need to access the wheelchair user during journeys. Does the seating layout allow for this? The number and layout of seats varies between WAV models, so will impact on how many people can travel with you.
Other seating considerations
- When making the vehicle suitable for the wheelchair user, often the converter will have to remove some of the standard seats and this can impact how many other people can travel with you
- Some vehicles have rear seats designed to fold out of the way of the wheelchair users and some have the option of adding additional seats
- Some seats are smaller and may not be suitable for adults on long journeys or for fixing a child car seat to.
Safety is important no matter what type of vehicle you drive, but with a WAV there are a few extra things to consider. Most WAVs have four restraint belts that attach to the front and rear of the wheelchair to keep it in position. The front restraints are adjustable and usually self-locking, similar to a seatbelt. There are a few different mechanisms for attaching the restraints to the wheelchair, some of which a carer might find easier to operate than others. Anyone responsible for helping to use the restraints must test them out during the demonstration.
The space you have inside once you’ve taken into account the wheelchair user and passengers is often limited and very valuable. During the demonstration of the WAV try to have everything you would regularly carry in the vehicle with you. When selecting your WAV think about whether there are any tight or difficult manoeuvres the wheelchair user will have to make when getting in and out and make sure this will be easy for them to do on a regular basis.
If you’re worried about this, or if there is a chance you might need to increase the size of your wheelchair over the five year lease speak to your WAV supplier.
It’s also important to consider how much space you will need for any luggage or equipment. If you need more safe storage for luggage, discuss options with your WAV convertor . Also, car accessory shops sell items that can hold luggage in place and rooftop boxes are another option if the space inside your WAV is limited. Remember that loose luggage can be dangerous if the driver has to brake suddenly.
Once you’ve thought about your lifestyle needs and requirements and have an idea of the type of WAV that might be suitable, you can get in touch with a few suppliers . They’ll be happy to discuss your needs and considerations with you and will be able to recommend a potential solution.