For anyone, buying a new car is a significant investment, requiring extensive research and careful planning. For disabled drivers, however, there is often even more to consider in what makes the right disability car.
Factors to Consider
Primarily, the car must be designed or adapted to accommodate your disability. Not only must it be safe and comfortable to drive but you must be able to get yourself and any mobility aids you use in and out easily. Practical considerations might include seat height, wheelchair space, legroom, or a manual versus an automatic transmission. If necessary, cars can be adapted to become even more accommodating: common adaptations include mechanical hand controls and steering aids, swivel seats, pedal modifications and person hoists. In short, it’s important that you have a car that suits your needs.
The Buying Process
So how do you go about buying your disability car? Most disabled people use the Motability Car Scheme, which is run to help those in need of a disabled vehicle by exchanging your government-funded disability benefit for a new car. To be eligible for the scheme you simply need to be receiving either the higher rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance or the War Pensioners Mobility Supplement and have a minimum of 12 months of your allowance left. Your allowance is then exchanged in part, or in full, for your disability car.
Motability Car Scheme
There are over 4000 cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles available through the scheme, which includes the option of trading in your old car to help finance your new one. Some larger or higher specification cars cost more than the allowance so require an additional advance payment to cover this difference, but there are around 400 cars that are exempt from this. As well as covering many of the additional costs of the car such as road tax and insurance, your allowance can be used to provide many of the most popular adaptations at no extra cost. If you require more complex adaptations that aren’t covered by your allowance, Motability may be able provide a grant through their charitable fund.
What’s the Next Step?
If you think that you need a disabled vehicle, the next step is to book appointments with some of the 5000 car dealerships that offer the Motability Car Scheme across the UK, to find out which cars and adaptations are available and will suit your needs. Test drive as many cars as you see fit, discuss all your options with the trained specialists and don’t make a decision until you’re happy that you’re making the right choice. Your new disability car is an important investment and one you want to get right.