Mobility Vehicle Conversions
For travelling longer distances, cars are the ideal mode of transport for all types of people. Wheelchair users can take advantage of cars that have adaptations to support their needs; there is a range of vehicles specifically created for those with limited mobility, but it is also possible to adapt vehicles after they have been purchased.
Vehicle conversions for wheelchair users make the ideal mobility solutions to allow wheelchair users to get around easily, increasing their quality of life. A wheelchair accessible vehicle should have the safety and experience of the wheelchair user in mind, which is why vehicle conversions can be a great option as they can be personalised to the needs of the user.
Here is our guide to wheelchair accessible vehicles and the options available to our customers in Ireland!
What are Vehicle Adaptations?
Vehicle adaptations can be a big help to those with physical disabilities as they make driving or travelling easier and more accessible. Adaptations are add ons that can be fitted to the vehicle so that disabled drivers and passengers can get around without a problem.
Common issues for drivers and passengers with a disability include:
- Getting into the driver or passenger seat
- Lack of control in lower limbs to be able to drive car
- Seat support for back or spinal injuries
One of the most common issues that can prevent disabled drivers from travelling is manoeuvring into the car in the first place. Luckily, there are many adaptations that can assist disabled drivers and passengers so that they can move from their wheelchair to the vehicle seat, or stay in their wheelchair while travelling. Additionally, there are quality products that can allow disabled drivers to control a car, even if they have little to no movement in their legs. However, it is important to note that mobility vehicles with adaptations must be approved as an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle).
Legal Requirements for Mobility Vehicles
As previously mentioned, vehicles with adaptations to assist disabled drivers must now be approved as an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle). This is a legal requirement from the European framework for type-approval of motor vehicles. The Irish Type Approval Authority have also been issuing IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) certification since 2012. To find out the right certification for your vehicle and learn how to apply, visit the NSAI (National Standards Authority Ireland) website here.
Which Adaptions can Assist Disabled Drivers and Passengers?
Depending on your requirements, you can find quality adaptations to help eliminate the barriers of physical disabilities when it comes to driving and travelling in vehicles. To ensure you are looking into the right adaptations for you, you should first reflect on the issues you face when it comes to driving and travelling in cars. Highlight the main issues so that our team at Procon can help find the perfect adaptations for your specific requirements. Here are the main adaptations to mobility vehicles that disabled drivers and those with physical disabilities look for.
Rear Access Conversions
Vehicles with rear access conversions are one of the most popular types for wheelchair users. Rear access vehicles usually have a ramp that retracts from the rear of the vehicle down to the ground, allowing wheelchair passengers to easily enter a vehicle. The ramps can be automatic or manual, and can also come as powered lifts which lower down to the floor. Rear access conversions for vehicles are dependant on the requirements of the user; will the wheelchair passenger drive the car or transfer to a passenger seat?
The operation of the vehicle will decide which conversions need to take place, in order to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for those with limited mobility.
Lowered Floor Conversions
In a conversion of a vehicle with a powered lift or ramp, your wheelchair vehicle specialist may need to lower the floor of the vehicle so that there is enough room for the wheelchair and passenger. This adaptation is ideal for those travelling as a passenger, or a disabled driver that requires access from the rear of the vehicle.
At Procon Vehicles, we carry out a large range of lowered floor conversions in Co. Kilkenny which all come with IVA certification. Lowering the floor of a vehicle may also require additional services to ensure safety in the vehicle, such as seatbelt solutions.
If a wheelchair user is entering the vehicle as a passenger, there are many seatbelt solutions to tie the chair down to the vehicle while it is in motion. Seatbelt solutions are necessary for safety when working on vehicle conversions and will depend on whether the passenger is staying seated in their wheelchair or transferring to another chair.
There are conversions such as rails and automatic wheelchair locking systems that can be applied to a range of vehicles for added safety.
Swivel Chair Conversions
Swivel chairs are also an option for vehicle conversions that a popular option for a number of people. If passengers want to move from their wheelchair to a seat, swivel seats are the best option.
Swivel seats turn 90 degrees so that they can be accessed from any angle. It is also possible for a wheelchair accessible vehicle with a rear or side access door to allow a client to drive, rather than sit as a passenger.
Depending on the car, it may be possible for a conversion to allow entry from the back of the vehicle and transfer to the driver’s seat. Swivel chairs are suitable whether the user is a passenger or wants to drive the car.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle with Side Access
Side access can also help provide individuals with limited mobility independence in travelling around using a car.
Side access vehicles work in the same way as rear entry vehicles; a ramp or powered lift is added and clients can either sit in their wheelchair as a passenger or transfer to the driver’s seat. Vehicle conversions with side access usually include lowered floors, swivel chairs and in some cases, hand controls.
Mobility conversions with side access take place in our workshop; our friendly team are able to provide you with the services you require for your vehicle.
Hand Controls for Mobility Conversions
Many wheelchair accessible vehicles contain hand controls, which allow the driver to control the braking and accelerating by hand. Hand controls are ideal for those that have limited mobility and a lack of control or no control in their lower limbs.
Hand controls work extremely well in a family car, as the wheelchair driver can use hand controls whilst other family members can ignore the hand controls and drive the vehicle as usual, at any time. Hand controls are one of the best conversion choices for people that struggle to move their legs and feet; the hand controls allow those with limited mobility to have more freedom and a much better quality of life.
Left Foot Accelerators
In addition to hand controls, there are also conversions that can be added to wheelchair accessible vehicles for those with limited mobility in their lower limbs. Procon offer left foot accelerators, which enable the operation of a car to be with the left foot, rather than the right. If drivers struggle to control the accelerator with their right foot due to a lack of control or feeling in their right leg, a left accelerator can work extremely well.
Conversions such as left foot accelerators can be added depending on your requirements. If a left foot accelerator is required to be fitted in the car, it can also be easily removed for the operation of the vehicle by another person or family member. There are many details for conversions that can be easily reverted or set aside so that the vehicle can be used by more than one person.
Fully customised solution for disabled drivers in mobility vehicles
Vehicle conversions are completely dependant on what our clients would like and provide the best possible experience while travelling. The needs of a person with limited mobility and their safety are of the utmost importance to us at Procon Vehicles. We are a family run business in Ireland, with our workshop located in Co. Kilkenny.
We take pride in our customer service and the customer satisfaction feedback we receive. You can find details about our Mobility Scheme on our website as well as more information about the conversions we can carry out in Ireland.