Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Buyer’s Guide
With over 35 years of experience in the design and manufacture of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs), Brotherwood® are recognised as the experts in providing comfortable, inclusive and safe travel for wheelchair users and their families.
We know that choosing the right vehicle for your needs is complex, and our expertise has helped hundreds of Clients, Case Managers, Occupational Therapists, Rehabilitation Professionals and Solicitors, to find the perfect mobility vehicle solution. Our in-depth consultation process ensures that your vehicle will suit you perfectly.
It is critical to first assess how much interior space you require from your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle to travel comfortably, with good visibility out of the windows and without feeling cramped.
The most important dimensions to measure are:
- The seated height of the wheelchair user;
- The ‘track’ (wheel to wheel) width of the wheelchair;
- The width of the wheelchair at the armrests;
- The height of the wheelchair armrests;
- The total length of the wheelchair;
- The weight of the wheelchair and user.
By comparing these measurements to our wheelchair accessible vehicles, carefully checking for adequate entry height and internal headroom, we ensure that you travel in comfort. It is also vital to consider the weight of both the wheelchair and wheelchair user, as adequate restraints must be supplied to ensure passenger safety.
An inclusive wheelchair position is more comfortable, gives better outward visibility and enables social interaction with other passengers. Check the travelling position of the wheelchair to ensure passenger safety and wellbeing.
There are many options for locating the wheelchair user within the vehicle. Depending on your needs you may prefer:
- Wheelchair user up front next to the driver
- Wheelchair user next to the rear passengers
- Wheelchair user behind the rear passengers
A central wheelchair location (between the rear seats) is popular with families for inclusion, conversation or attendance on the move. It also tends to offer the most space and comfort for the wheelchair user.
Travelling behind the rear seats is less ideal but might be right for you if the vehicle does not need to carry a wheelchair user very often – for example as a taxi or at a care home. A rear wheelchair location might also be adequate if you intend to transfer into a passenger seat, or are using the vehicle to carry a mobility scooter.
Travelling in a wheelchair is much more comfortable if the floor is level. Make sure the wheelchair user sits on a level surface, with enough headroom to sit naturally with a good field of vision.
When assessing the best WAV for your needs, the wheelchair user’s comfort is a priority. Wheelchair users positioned on a sloping floor can experience discomfort, as the incline can disrupt the ergonomics and posture of the wheelchair. Placing the wheelchair too high within the body of the vehicle can also increase the sensation of body roll, whilst too far back in the vehicle and the wheelchair user is not only isolated but uncomfortable as bumps and undulations in the road surface are amplified.
Research by the Posture & Mobility Group for the “Best Practice for the Transportation of People Seated in Wheelchairs” states:
“A longitudinally central location in which a person is seated as close to the vehicle chassis as possible, i.e. as low in the vehicle as possible, is considered to be the most comfortable position in which to be transported in a vehicle. The field of vision and visibility of the wheelchair occupant, for communication or attendance, are also important considerations when choosing the wheelchair position within a vehicle.”
VEHICLE SIZE & TYPE
Like any car purchase, consider which vehicle best suits your lifestyle and how you will use it. Not only does the vehicle need to offer suitable comfort, inclusion and safety for the wheelchair user, it should also suit the entire family’s lifestyle.
During the assessment process we’ll discuss how you use the vehicle to ensure that it fits your needs. By taking our time to discuss your needs we’ll ensure that it fits in your garage or drive, in any regular parking spaces (at the shops, or for example at school) and that it can easily be loaded and unloaded in all of these places. We’ll also discuss whether you require manual or automatic transmission, ensure that it can it be driven by all necessary family members or carers, and that it has enough space or storage solutions for any additional equipment you need to travel with.
Our helpful staff can even suggest bespoke storage solutions for anything you may travel with; from bags of shopping to dogs we can find a suitable solution.
We can offer multiple affordable and flexible funding options, and discuss with you which way works best for your budget.
We offer a range of brand new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles for sale, which can be purchased privately.
We also hold a range of used WAVs, which are fully refurbished to a high standard.
The Motability scheme allows you to exchange your mobility allowance for a new Brotherwood WAV for a 5 year term.
If you only require a WAV for a short term, we offer weekly or monthly Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle hire.
A WAV is no different to insure than a standard vehicle, however you will need to inform your insurer that it has been converted to transport a wheelchair user, as you will need to cover the vehicle for the full replacement value.
How to Find Insurance for a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle: You can insure a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle through any of the major insurance companies, but we recommend firms who specialise in Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles.
Specialist companies include :
- Fish Insurance – 0800 0469860
- Thomas & Co – 01202 620691
- Prestige Insurance – 0800 330857
We always recommend you contact at least a couple of insurance companies, as you will find the premium can differ; in some cases quite significantly.
Road Tax Exemption For Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Clients in receipt of the higher rate of the Mobility Component or Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will be entitled to apply for a free road fund licence. You will need to contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) at Blackpool 08457 123 456 and request an application for a DLA 404. Please note you have to be declared and registered disabled before the age of 65 to be entitled to this exemption.
VAT Exemption For Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Following a review and a public consultation over the VAT treatment of adapted motor vehicles by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a number of changes were made to the legislation with effect from 1 April 2017. These include the introduction of a limit on the number of vehicles that can be purchased under the relief, with an eligible individual now being able to purchase only one vehicle that meets the qualifying conditions every 3 years.
That means if you as a private individual or charity intend to purchase more than one new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle in a 3 year span, you may not qualify for VAT relief on each purchase. However some exemptions may apply to this ruling, for example if your vehicle is stolen or destroyed, or if your circumstances change dictating the need for a new vehicle.
More information regarding these changes can be found at the HMRC website.
Consider how your needs may change in the future. For example you may need more seats, or to carry different equipment with you. Before deciding if a vehicle is right for you we can help to assess your future needs, to ensure that the vehicle suits your requirements for years to come.
- Is there a local dealer nearby for convenient servicing?
- Will you need to hire a larger vehicle for holidays?
- Will the wheelchair user’s height increase over the next few years?
- Are you planning on getting a new wheelchair?
Our expert staff are on hand to guide you through all of these considerations and more. Get in touch today to discuss your needs.