“Driving a car can become a reality for many people who are paralyzed, even people with very limited hand and arm function,” says the Alan T. Foundation. The foundation shares some tips on modifying a vehicle to fit your adaptive needs.
The first step in the process of learning to drive post-injury is to get an evaluation from a qualified driver trainer. The evaluation will help determine your basic driving set up, specific modifications and driving equipment. An Evaluation includes a vision screening, assessment of muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion, coordination and reaction time, judgment and decision making, and the ability to drive with adaptive equipment.
States require a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit to receive an on the road evaluation.
“You cannot be denied the opportunity to apply for a permit or license because you have a disability, but you may receive a restricted license, based on the use of adaptive devices.”
Selecting A Vehicle
Choosing a vehicle for modification requires collaboration from the evaluator and a qualified vehicle modification dealer. Consider the following questions:
- Does the necessary adaptive equipment require a van or will a smaller car suffice? Will you be driving from your wheelchair or transferring into a seat? If you can transfer into a seat you will have a wider option of cars.
- Can the vehicle accommodate the equipment that needs to be installed?
- Will there be enough room for other passengers once modifications are installed?
- Is there adequate parking space at your home/work to load and unload your mobility equipment (wheelchair/walker etc.)?
Paying For Modified Vehicle
The Alan T. Brown Foundation states, “The cost of modifying a vehicle varies greatly. A new vehicle modified with adaptive equipment can cost from $20,000 to $80,000. Depending on the nature and cause of your disability, there are programs that will cover the cost of vehicle modifications. Be sure to check with your states Vocational Rehabilitation services or Department of Veteran Affairs if appropriate. The Alan T. Brown Foundation also suggests to consider the following:
- Many nonprofit associations that advocate for people with disabilities have grant programs to assist in paying for adapting devices.
- If you have private health insurance or workers’ compensation, you may be covered for adaptive devices and vehicle modifications.
- Many manufacturers have rebate or reimbursement plans for modified vehicles.
- Some states waive sales tax for adaptive vehicles if you have a doctor’s prescription for their use.
Be sure to do your research before purchasing a vehicle and/or modification. Check out the original post for more details.
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