Wheelchair accessible vehicles, or WAV’s as they’re commonly referred to, are cars that have been converted to fit a ramp to allow a person to enter a car while still in their wheelchair. WAV’s provide a fantastic alternative to people who are otherwise limited to using taxi’s and public transport to get around – but they do come at a cost. Structural modifications can be expensive so read on for our top tips about WAV’s to make sure you get the most out of your car.
You can choose to fit a ramp at either the rear or side of your car. These days both options provide access to both the driver and passenger areas so the location of the ramp is totally up to you, although in some cases the specifications of your car may limit you to one option. When making this decision, consider where you intend to park the car (e.g. do you have enough space in your garage for a side or rear ramp?), the size of wheelchair being used and how much headroom the wheelchair user requires as these can all impact the positioning of the ramp. We suggest you discuss this with your Occupational Therapist and car converter to make sure you get the ramp and access that suits you best.
Whether you’re parking at home or in public, you will need extra space to park your WAV. Generally speaking, you will need at least three metres of extra space wherever your ramp has been fitted to allow for both the ramp and the space required for the wheelchair user to safely manoeuvre on to the ramp.
Carers and Support Workers
If you rely on a Carer or Support Worker to help you transfer or drive your car, it is vital that they are familiar and comfortable with your car. This is why it’s important to take your primary caregiver(s) with you when you visit your Occupational Therapist and your vehicle converter, and ask them to take your Carer(s) or Support Worker(s) through all the details that they need to know.
As with all cars, it is important that you service your wheelchair accessible vehicle on a regular basis to protect it against breakdowns and mechanical issues. The frequency of servicing will largely depend on the type of car you have, the type of ramp you have, how often you use it and the age of the vehicle. Speak with your converter about how often you should service your car to ensure that it stays in optimal condition.
Finding the right policy can be particularly difficult if your car has been converted for a driver or passenger with a disability. This is because most insurers don’t understand disabilities so they often quote higher premiums because they consider WAV owners to be high-risk drivers. As Australia’s first independence and disability insurance specialist, we at Blue Badge know that people with wheelchair accessible vehicles are generally safer drivers who represent a lower risk and we think they deserve to be rewarded with lower prices. Find out more about our car insurance here.