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What are adapted vehicles & how can they help

Maintaining an independent and active lifestyle outside the home can be difficult when standard vehicle’s aren’t designed with full accessibility in mind. Adapted vehicles offer a great solution for disabled drivers and passengers, enabling access to car travel. 

So, what are adapted vehicles and how can they help? 

Defining adapted vehicles

Adapted vehicles are specifically designed to meet a vast range of needs and requirements for individuals with mobility impairments. Whilst advancements have been made with standard cars, original vehicle manufacturers are still developing cars without accessibility in mind. 

The role adapted cars play is critical to enable wheelchair users and people with physical disabilities access to car travel. This is especially evident as according to, in 2022 33% of disabled adults lived in households without access to a car, compared with 13% of non-disabled adults. This sharp statistic further highlights just how crucial it is to increase awareness of adapted vehicle solutions. 

Accessible vehicle types

Fortunately there are a number of accessible vehicle solutions to suit varying needs. It’s extremely important to explore all available options to ensure you select the right travel solutions for your specific needs and lifestyle. 

Vehicle adaptations are by far the most popular solution as they can be fitted into hundreds of different makes and models, affording you a greater choice of cars to suit your wants and needs. This allows you to enjoy all the benefits and luxuries of standard cars, but making them accessible and drivable to your individual requirements. 

An alternative option is a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle which is a van derived vehicle that has been converted to enable a wheelchair user to travel within the vehicle whilst remaining seated in their wheelchair. Typically the floor is lowered with a fitted ramp so the wheelchair user can enter through the rear or side of the car. These are predominantly to accommodate passengers, however there are some Drive From Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles also available. 

A Drive From Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is much like a regular Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle in the sense that they are converted vans, but they also allow wheelchair users to travel and drive in the front driver’s position whilst in their wheelchair. Driving adaptations can also be fitted into these vehicles for those unable to operate the standard functions. 

Innovative driving controls

Adapted driving controls for disabled drivers are specifically designed systems that can be fitted to a vehicle to make driving accessible to a broader range of individuals. They are particularly beneficial for people with reduced mobility, limited dexterity, physical disabilities, or limb amputations who are unable to use the vehicle’s standard functions. 

Driving adaptations such as hand controls, pedal extensions, left foot accelerators, steering aids and remote control devices can be fitted to a wide range of cars including hatchbacks, estates, people carriers and SUV’s. Providing you with a greater choice of cars. 

For much more complex needs, there is an electronic joystick driving system for a select few Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. This system which uses modern technology is available in multiple different styles to suit a variety of needs and essentially allows you to operate the acceleration, braking and steering from one device. 

Seating and entry solutions

Whilst Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles offer one solution for wheelchair users, enabling them to travel within the vehicle whilst remaining seated in their wheelchair, adaptive seating solutions are still hugely vital to achieve access in a standard car. 

Swivel seats, person hoists or transfer plates can be fitted to assist with getting in and out of a vehicle, addressing many challenges that can arise when a driver or passenger is looking to transfer from a mobility scooter or wheelchair into the car seat. As well as aid with standing transfers. 

Alternatively, it may just be that you need to try our tips and safe techniques for a convenient and comfortable transfer process in and out of a car. 

Government support and funding

If you receive a qualifying mobility allowance from the government and have at least 12 months award length remaining, then you could be eligible for funding from The Motability Scheme towards a vehicle and adaptations. Motability is a government funded scheme which enables you to exchange your mobility allowance for a car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, adaptations or a mobility device. 

If you’re not eligible for Motability funding, there are a variety of other options from relevant charities and payment plans. 

Get in touch with our team at Mobility in Motion who will be able to talk you through the available vehicle adaptation solutions and arrange a mobility assessment to understand your individual requirements and recommend the exact products for your needs.

We recommend checking out our blog covering alternatives to wheelchair accessible vehicles so you’re aware of all of the options for your needs.