On of the most common calls we receive at Superior Van and Mobility is about buying or installing a hand control system in someone’s vehicle. Hand controls allow a person with good upper body strength to drive almost any vehicle on the road today while controlling the gas and brake with a hand system. In many states, the actual law does not mandate that a person pass a state driving test to legally drive with hand controls, however, it is a business decision by our own company that requires new drivers or new customers to Superior to take such a test. Why you may ask? Wouldn’t we sell more hand controls if this policy was not in place? The answer is, safety is more important to Superior than profits. What matters to Superior Van and Mobility is the safety of the driver, the safety of those around him or her, and the piece of mind as a company that we have explained the dangers of driving with hand controls to folks. Most people believe that it is very simple to learn to control a moving vehicle with their hands instead of their feet. Sadly, we see too many stories in the news about people being injured or killed because they could not stop quickly enough, or accelerated too fast with new hand control equipment. We take our role in the installation of these products VERY seriously. Further, having certified technicians install this equipment is equally as important to us. Poorly installed equipment is just as dangerous as an inexperienced driver. Many customers express frustration upon hearing about our policy because there is usually a time factor and cost to passing this driving test. More often than not though, people and family members thank us for putting safety in front of profits in a matter this important. If you are unsure about the process for driver training, you can call any of our mobility consultants and we are happy to refer you to someone in your area that can assist you with the process.
When selecting the right vehicle for your needs, consider both the mini and the full-sized wheelchair vans. In many cases, both vehicles can be upgraded to be accessible to individuals that have to remain in a wheelchair when entering or exiting the vehicle. Regardless, it is always necessary to consider a few specific aspects of both options before you make the decision about one or the other. Those investing in either option will find that in most cases, there are reasons to make either an acceptable choicee.
A wheelchair van is effective only when it works for your needs. For this reason, you should talk to a dealership like ours (Superior Van and Mobility) to determine what the best type of van for your situation and budget.
The minivan is one of the most consumer-appreciated and commonly available vehicles. Various manufacturers produce it. A standard minivan from a “normal” dealership can, in most cases, be modified to include accessible features for those with disabilities. This usually takes 4-6 weeks if you are sending your van away to be modified. This is not always possible, but it can be done on many chassis types. Another option is a wheelchair van already customized to your needs. Specialized dealers like Superior Van & Mobility carry ready-to-take- home vans right on their lots. They can range in features and styles as well as price range.
The Full Sized Van
Another option to consider is the full sized van. Full-size vans offer more height and floor room for wheelchairs users and use a lift (not a ramp) to enter and exit the vehicle. It is a larger vehicle overall so costs to fuel it tend to be higher than a minivan. Also, if you have never driven a full size van, some folks think it is a little harder to manage in parking spaces and on the road in general. It is still a great option for those who need more head room and or cannot fit their family in a smaller van.
There are nice people out there, and there are not so nice people out there. The folks that respect the lined areas that accompany most handicapped parking spaces fall into the nice people category. At Superior Van and Mobility, we hear about the not-so-nice folks and the headaches they cause our wheelchair van users. Believe me, we’ve heard some FUNNY STUFF from some of our feistier van drivers of things they’ve done to remind folks not to park in those areas. I hope you have never been a victim of their reminders! If you’ve never thought about the challenges this type of disregard creates, just ask yourself this question, “If someone in a wheelchair has to get into this vehicle, how would they do it with my car parked just inches from their door?” In today’s society, many folks are so busy and preoccupied with their own activities and errands that they unconsciously or sometimes consciously overlook these special and necessary areas. My goal in writing this blog entry is to make this something that people actually think about and talk about in their personal circles. I even hope for making it something people speak up about in person if they see someone parking in one of these areas! People with mobility vans and special driving equipment need these spaces not because they are closer to a store or an office, but because extra space is needed to accommodate their entry and exit from these vehicles. That extra space is more easily monitored if it is within viewing distance of the business providing the spots. There are things our customers have done to their own vans to remind folks about their parking needs. These actions include putting large stickers on their van doors asking for extra loading space (which we provide to our customers free of charge), and some even carry an orange cone with them that they leave outside of their car to remind others not to be in that space. Even with these additional messages present, it continues to be a challenge to make people understand the validity in their request. In closing, please be aware of the necessity of these spaces and pass on the facts about their existence to those that seem bitter or resentful of their placement. These spots are abused more than any other parking restriction we have, but I am hopeful as awareness is raised about what they mean to their valid users, this will change.
If someone you love has recently been confined to a wheelchair, it is very important that you start taking steps to meet his or her needs. One of the most important elements of making your life and your home wheelchair ready is making sure that your vehicle is wheelchair accessible. If you own a full-sized van or a mini van, you can actually turn your vehicle into a wheelchair accessible van by investing in and installing components that will make it easier for your loved one to enter into your vehicle. This process is called wheelchair van conversion.
Wheelchair van conversion allows your loved one to enter and leave your vehicle without straining him or herself or others. Without the proper wheelchair lifts or ramps, it can be very difficult for a person in a wheelchair to enter and leave a vehicle. When you turn your van into a wheelchair accessible van, you need to make sure that you install the proper lift or ramp that will make the transition from the ground to the vehicle as easy and as safe as possible. Before beginning your wheelchair van conversion, you should properly research the different aspects that different lifts and ramps can provide. Perhaps the largest choice you will have to make is whether or not you want to purchase an automatic lift or a manual lift.
Another choice you will have to make while turning your van into a wheelchair accessible van is whether or not you would like to invest in hand controls. Hand controls can be expensive and do require training to operate. However, they can also help your loved one recover precious independence on the road. With the ability to drive a vehicle alone, he or she will not have to rely on you for transportation. Before you turn your van into a wheelchair accessible van through wheelchair van conversion, check to see how Superior Van and Mobility can help you.
All too often I hear that someone has not been able to drive to their family member’s wedding, a family reunion, or just to the beach because there was no way to get them and their wheelchair there comfortably and conveniently. There are SO MANY options on the market these days to help ease this concern! If you haven’t investigated what’s now available in the wheelchair van market these days, you will be amazed.
You may be wondering why a lowered floor minivan is so important in this situation. Maybe someone is your family has offered to just put a ramp in the side door of their existing van? Here’s our David Letterman top 10 list of why that will not work:
10) Where will the ramp go when you are not using it?
9) You want me to go up that steep ramp? Who is pushing??
8.) Ouch, don’t bump your head as you go in!
7) What out for that flying chair if there is an accident!
6) Seat belt, who needs a stinking seat belt?
5) Oh, I have to bend in half to sit comfortably in here?
4) You want me to go down that steep ramp? Who is catching?
3) No moving around until I reach the next destination?
2) Great scenery – wish I could see it
And the Number One reason it will not work:
1) IT’S NOT SAFE!!
The new vehicles on the market today offer space, style, comfort, and safety. If price is a concern, a used or pre-owned van may be the answer!! Looking for options and special packages on the vehicles? We’ve got em’ – leather, navigation, back up camera’s, etc. Need a vehicle with great gas mileage? How does 28 mpg sound?
Don’t miss out on anything or anywhere you want to go just because you have to consider your chair in the equation. Check out what’s available by contacting one of our mobility consultants today to discuss your specific needs and situation
We are often asked if there is financing available for our converted vehicle inventory. The quick answer is YES! We have a great relationship with Braun Credit who works with various lending institutions who are familiar with the costs associated with the Chassis and Conversions. Just like at a traditional automotive dealership, a client can fill out a simple one-page application and let their sales associate do the rest.
As with any time credit is granted, the terms and rates are determined by the lender. Considerations that commonly go into the credit worthiness formula are overall credit history, automotive payment history, revolving credit utilization percentage, payment-to-income ratio and overall debt-to-payment ratio, among others. These lenders typically need a 10% downpayment and keep in mind, a trade-in can be considered towards this downpayment.
Of course, the client may choose to obtain a loan via their local bank or credit union. We welcome that as well and we know some clients may leverage their other existing accounts (signature loans, mortgage loans, etc.) when negotiating a rate. The great thing about Braun Credit is they can petition for a much longer term than what a local bank may be willing to offer. For instance, a typical 10 year term might produce a $550 per month payment whereas a 5 year term payment might be $975 or so. Also, keep in mind that all Braun Credit initiated contracts are Simple Interest. That means, if you choose a longer term for a more affordable monthly payment but come across some extra funds, you can prepay at no penalty.
So if you think that a new, handicap accessible van is too expensive, talk to your sales associate about your financing options. You may find it is more affordable than you think!!
Getting adaptive driving equipment can be a very exciting time, but along with that excitement comes some uncertainty. How do I get hand controls legally? Do I need any type of training? Who do I contact to get that training? These are all very good questions and are all an important part of the process. It is very important that any individual needing adaptive driving controls be evaluated and prescribed by an Occupational Therapist who is certified in Driver Rehabilitation.
There are several advantages for clients who are evaluated by a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS). Not only will a CDRS train the individual on how to properly operate all of the adaptive equipment, but they will also physically take them to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain the restriction on his or her license. This process results in a nice easy transition for our clients, while allowing them to obtain all of the necessary documents to be a legal licensed driver of their state.
This restriction will help to protect the individual operating the modified vehicle, any passengers, and anyone else who may be involved. For example, in the unlikely event of an accident, the driver of the modified vehicle has proof that he or she has obtained all of the training necessary to operate their vehicle safely. This restriction could prevent any injured individuals from pressing charges or suing, based on driving a modified vehicle without proper training.
It is very important that all individuals needing adaptive driving equipment be evaluated and prescribed by a CDRS in their area. This process will ensure the safety and legality of our clients while helping to make their overall driving experience easy and exciting.
After the the prescription is obtained, Superior Van & Mobility can outfit your existing vehicle with the necessary driving equipment, or assist you with purchasing just the right vehicle that meets your needs and budget. With over 35 years of experience in the mobility industry, our consultants know what it’s like for that first time driver and all the questions that come with that new found freedom and independence.