Features of a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV)
Key to a WAV being suitable to meet your needs is the available access options for the wheelchair user, and the space and layout inside, including any passenger seats for carers and the rest of your family.
We classify our WAVs as small, medium or large to make is easier to decide which one suits you. If you’re not sure on whether a WAV is right for you, find out what’s different about a WAV first.
- Most small WAVs accommodate up to four people including the wheelchair user
- These WAVs normally have a ramp rather than a lift to allow access
- They will have a lowered floor to give more headroom inside the vehicle and reduce the angle of the ramp making is easier to get in and out.
- You might need a medium WAV if you have a larger wheelchair or if you need to travel with equipment
- They usually seat between five and seven people including the wheelchair user
- Most will have a ramp, but some are available with an electric lift instead
Getting in and out
Many WAVs will have had their floor specially lowered to allow enough headroom for the wheelchair user. It also helps make access easier by allowing the ramp to be as short as possible and the angle to be less steep.
Ramps are the most common way to access a WAV. The ramp is usually manually operated with the carer physically unfolding the ramp from the back of the vehicle. They can be automatic, where the ramp folds and unfolds at the touch of a button – however this will cost extra. Some manual ramps are lighter in design, and others can be gas-assisted to make raising and lowering easier.
If you opt for a larger WAV, it might have a lift instead of a ramp. This can be a help if your carer has trouble pushing you up a ramp. A lift may cost more than a ramp so your Advance Payment could be higher.
Inside a WAV
The space you have inside a WAV is vitally important – not just for all passengers, but also to accommodate the things you will be travelling with regularly such as shopping or mobility aids.
Front or back?
Most WAVs position the wheelchair user in the back of the vehicle, but the actual position can vary quite a lot. Some layouts position the wheelchair user right at the back where the original boot would have been; others try to position the wheelchair user closer behind the driver. The position will affect the travelling experience as the closer forward the wheelchair user is positioned the more inclusive many people find it, however these conversions typically cost more. Additionally, some converters specialise in supplying WAVs that allow the wheelchair user to sit in the front next to the driver, although these will have a higher Advance Payment.
All WAVs have a restraint system that has been tested as part of the conversion type approval. Most WAVs have four restraint belts that attach to the front and rear of the wheelchair to keep it in position inside the vehicle. The front restraints are adjustable and are usually self-locking, similar to a seatbelt. They are easily be attached to the wheelchair to lock it in place, minimising movement when you are travelling.
There are different mechanisms for attaching the restraints to the wheelchair, some of which a carer might find easier to operate than others. An automatic tie-down system is available at additional cost.
Additionally, the wheelchair user will have an appropriate seatbelt fitted to keep the user safe when travelling. :
All WAV conversions are tested for safety of the wheelchair user; however some WAVs will be tested with a heavier wheelchair than others. It is important that your supplier knows which wheelchair you are currently using and if this is likely to change during the course of your lease so that they can recommend an appropriate WAV and restraint system.