It is entirely possible, safe, and even beneficial for adults with physical handicaps to operate their own motor vehicles. Special modifications are available for installation, and vehicle lifts for power wheelchairs make it easier to enter and exit vehicles of all types. Adaptive technology has greatly improved in recent years, allowing handicapped drivers to operate their vehicles affordably and efficiently.
However, there are certain regulations that disabled drivers must comply with to operate vehicles according to state and federal laws. This article will address the various requirements for drivers with physical disabilities and other considerations that wheelchair users should know about their vehicles.
Special Licensing Policies
It is necessary for all drivers to pass a written test and a driving test, regardless of physical abilities. For disabled individuals, you must also prove that you are able to operate specially installed modifications, such as steering wheel hand controls and brakes. Some states allow steering wheel spinner knobs and manual transmission hand controls, while others do not. It is important for modification equipment to be installed by an approved vendor that is certified and licensed to provide these products.
Each state has its own process of granting licenses to disabled individuals, but a state can issue a restricted license based on what the disability is. It is required that disabled drivers display a designated license plate and vehicular hang tag to indicate that they have a disability. A good resource for disability plate and placard information by state is DMV.org’s disabled driver’s section.
For example, the state of New York offers several types of handicapped parking permits for disabled drivers, including temporary or permanent placards, metered parking waivers, and disability license plates. Disabled veteran plates are also available.
Another common question is whether a vehicle operated by a disabled person needs to be approved or formally certified by the DMV or the automobile insurance company. The Americans with Disability Discrimination Act of 1990 forbids insurance companies from charging disabled individuals higher premiums or denying coverage based on a disability. However, some insurance companies have asserted that modified vehicles will cost more to repair in the event of an accident, so they raise rates to make up the difference.
Another reason why it’s important to have an approved vendor install custom modifications in your vehicle is so that your insurance company will pay in case of damage. Unapproved equipment or equipment that is not installed properly could result in higher out-of-pocket payments. Although there is no formal certification needed for insurance purposes, it is very important to review your insurance policy before agreeing to the terms to ensure that your modifications will be covered. Adaption coverage applies to vehicle modifications, mobility insurance provides reimbursement for the cost of temporary transportation while your vehicle is being repaired, and equipment insurance covers your wheelchair or scooter. All of these types of coverage are recommended for disabled drivers to have.
Other Vehicle Considerations for Wheelchair Users
In addition to licensing and certification requirements, there are many other things that should be considered by drivers who have physical limitations. For example, disabled drivers will want to get a DMV handicapped parking permit to place in the car in order to receive parking privileges in prime locations. Also, vehicle lifts for power wheelchairs can help disabled individuals maintain their independence and increase safety upon entry and exit.
To simplify the process getting into and out of vehicles, Dermer Stairlifts offers wheelchair vehicle lift and automotive transfer seat options that are suitable for minivans, SUVs, and even sedans. We have been providing reliable service to all five boroughs, as well as Suffolk, Nassau, and Westchester Counties, for over 15 years. Let us put our experience and passion for helping others to work for you so that you can drive yourself with comfort and ease!