Passenger WAVs have passenger seats in the back so there's room for all the family.
The most common wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) are those where the wheelchair user travels as a passenger.
These range from compact MPVs to minibuses that can take more than one wheelchair passenger.
In larger WAVs, seats for other passengers are available in a range of different configurations. Some converters also offer WAVs where the passenger seats can be moved around.
A few passenger WAVs let you travel in the front next to the driver (up-front WAVs). In most WAVs you travel in the back. Many wheelchair users prefer up-front WAVs because they can talk to the driver more easily; but this type is more expensive.
Passenger WAV checklist:
- Make sure you can sit comfortably and upright (without having to duck your head), and can easily see out of the windows.
- Is there enough space above your head so you don't hit the ceiling if the driver takes a bump too fast?
- Will you be able to talk to the driver and any other passengers?
- Will your carer be able to get to you if you need assistance of any kind during your journey?
- Ideally, be positioned in front of the rear wheels or the ride can be very uncomfortable. Note: this may not be possible in some smaller WAVs.
- If you have uncontrolled movements, make sure you are not too close to unpadded parts of the car.
Getting in and out
- Which would suit you and the way you use your WAV best: a tailgate or a door (or doors)?
- Will you, or whoever is helping you, have the agility, strength and reach to open and close a tailgate?
- Make sure that you, or whoever is helping you, can safely and easily operate the ramp or lift to get you in and out.
- Make sure that you and your wheelchair will fit along the entry and exit route without getting stuck.
Tip: some WAV users place stickers on the ramp or somewhere else on the vehicle to help guide them into the right position when they are getting in.
- Think about how many people will be travelling with you.
- Some of the rear passenger seats may need to be removed to make enough space in front to get the wheelchair in. Sometimes they're replaced with folding or smaller seats.
- Think about where you'll stow, and how you'll secure, any luggage or equipment you'll be carrying. You can't use the space behind the wheelchair travelling position - it has to be clear for you to get in and out.
- Some WAV users carry their extra luggage in roof boxes or trailers. Note that most WAVs can't be used to pull a trailer because of the way the rear of the vehicle has been modified.
Wheelchair tie downs
- Think about who will be travelling with you. Tie downs need to be operated by an assistant.
- Tie downs can be fiddly, so whoever is operating them needs to be able to perform fine movements with their hands.
- Make sure the tie downs are fitted in the correct place to securely hold your wheelchair.
- Check the weight limits of the tie downs.
Tip: if your WAV has a ramp, having front tie downs which pull out enough to attach to your wheelchair before you go up the ramp will make using the tie downs easier.
Warning - smaller seats
- If the converter has fitted smaller seats in the back of the vehicle, these may not be suitable for an adult to sit on, especially on a long journey.
- They may also not be suitable for carrying a child seat. They may also have had any Isofix fittings removed. Ask the converter about this.