As more and more adaptive driving technologies become available, there are more opportunities than ever for those with disabilities to return to driving independently. However, with so many options on the market, it can be time consuming and frustrating to get to the point where you are ready to drive off into the sunset in your freshly modified vehicle.
Additionally, trying to rush the process, taking shortcuts, and not seeking qualified, professional advice can cause irreversible financial consequences. Keeping a few things in mind as you begin can make the entire process a better experience for you and your wallet. It will allow your evaluator and equipment installer to help you make smart choices and avoid costly mistakes.
First, look in to cost saving opportunities and licensing requirements.
- The cost of completing a driver rehab program, and modifying a vehicle can vary greatly.
- In extreme cases, total costs can be $80,000 or more.
- Most insurance will not cover any of the associated costs.
- Some possible third party funding sources include:
- State Vocational Rehab Programs
- Veteran’s Affairs
- Grants from non-profit organizations
- Workers’ compensation
- When working with any third party payer, be sure to obtain a written statement of what is covered and what is not.
- All states require a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license to participate in an on-the-road evaluation or training.
- Once everything is done, many states will require you to have certain restrictions on your license before you can legally operate a vehicle with auto adaptive equipment. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s policies.
- In the same way that a pharmacy will not hand out potentially dangerous medications without a prescription, mobility equipment dealers will not install potentially dangerous equipment without a prescription from a Driving Rehab Specialist.
- Driving Rehab Specialists perform comprehensive evaluations and assessments to identify to adaptive equipment best suited to your needs.
Selecting a vehicle
- Selecting a vehicle for modification requires collaboration between you, your evaluator, and a qualified vehicle adaptation vendor.
- While the purchase of an appropriate vehicle is your responsibility, it is the responsibility of your evaluator and modification vendor to ensure that your vehicle and your equipment are compatible, and that this combination will meet your needs.
- Things to keep in mind while considering vehicle selection, or when deciding if your current vehicle can be modified:
- Does the necessary equipment require a van, or will another vehicle be sufficient?
- Can the vehicle accommodate the desired (or required) equipment?
- Is there enough space to store a wheelchair, walker, etc.?
- Will there be enough space to accommodate your family or other passengers once the modifications are complete?
- Do you have adequate parking space at home/work for parking the vehicle, loading/unloading a wheelchair/walker, operating a lift, etc.?
- What additional options are needed for safe operation of the vehicle?
- If you wish to modify a vehicle that you already own, or if you are thinking of purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, what are the vehicle’s likely maintenance requirements? Modifying an older vehicle that may not last as long as the installed equipment could mean repeating the process of selecting a vehicle, and your existing equipment may not be compatible with your new vehicle.
- As mentioned before, when working with a third party funding source, are there any restrictions/limitations on what is covered? For example, it could happen that your desired equipment and vehicle are compatible, but your funding source will only pay for a hand control that is not compatible with your vehicle choice.
Once you’ve found the right mobility equipment or accessory to make you safely independent, BraunAbility Finance is available to make it affordable through Ally Lending. You can use Ally Lending to pay over time for mobility solutions, comprehensive driving evaluation, driver training sessions and even vehicle service/repair costs.
DRCE can also advise on purchases.
Choose a qualified dealer to modify your vehicle
- Your Driving Rehab Specialist will generally be able to recommend a qualified, reputable dealer.
- Things to keep in mind when choosing a dealer:
- Are they a member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA)?
- What type of training has the staff received, and what types of modifications/installations are they certified to do?
- How closely do they work with evaluators?
- Will they look at your vehicle before you purchase it?
- What type of warranties do they provide?
- Do they provide service and maintenance?
- Do they stock replacement parts?
- How long will it take them to start working on your vehicle?
- How long will it take them to finish, once they get started?
- How much will the modification cost?
- Will they accept third party payments?
- Can the equipment be transferred to a new vehicle?
- Will they need to modify any existing safety features to install the adaptive equipment?
Obtain training on your new equipment
- Both new and experienced drivers will require training in the use of installed equipment before the vehicle can be operated safely.
- Never allow a friend, family member, etc. to operate your vehicle using the adaptive equipment. Most modified vehicles can still be operated using the original equipment. Operating a vehicle without being adequately trained on the use of adaptive equipment can be dangerous to the you and or the operator, and puts your investment at risk.
Maintain your vehicle
- Regular maintenance is important for keeping your vehicle and equipment on the road and out of the shop.
- Routine maintenance may also be mandatory for compliance with the terms of your warranty.
- It is easier and safer to be without your vehicle for a day or so of maintenance than to have something fail or malfunction while you are on the road.
For more information:
At the Driver Rehabilitation Center of Excellence, our mission is to provide you with the highest quality individualized services, so that together we will find the best solution to meet your unique driving and community mobility needs. Our goal is to maximize your independence allowing you to reach your greatest potential.
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