The mobility car has changed the lives of so many wheelchair users over the years. If proof were ever needed, check out the testimonial web pages of the many first class companies producing and selling wheelchair cars on the internet.
In checking just a smattering of web sites, you'll quickly realize how many wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) are available to lease or buy, both new and second hand. A far cry from the situation of a few decades ago. Then there was only one, a miserable little three-wheeler called the Invacar.
Not only did it look awful, it was inherently unstable and downright dangerous. Even although its safety record was so obviously poor, the plug was only pulled after numerous accidents.
The Invacar was nothing more than a lurching, rickety, mobile signpost, blaring out to everyone passing by the driver inside was a disabled person. Not now. You can drive a hundred miles down the nearest motorway and pass a hundred wheelchair cars and never know it.
That's how much the mobility car has changed!
So what exactly is a wheelchair accessible vehicle. As the name implies, and it's a bit of a mouthful so it tends to be called a WAV, it's a modified car or other vehicle allowing easy access, on or off, by a wheelchair user. Simple.
Well, not really. The conversion - which starts off with a base car, the sort of car any able bodied person would normally buy - is a highly technical process requiring a great deal of knowledge, expertise and understanding of the needs of the wheelchair user.
And because the needs of wheelchair users can vary greatly, a whole range of adaptations are available, many at no extra cost, to help make the driving experience more comfortable and safer.
The WAV usually features a built-in ramp to allow easy independent access by a powered wheelchair user, or for a carer to help assist the wheelchair user to get into position. The floor of wheelchair cars are usually lowered, too, making access easier and increasing space inside. Sometimes the roof is raised instead to create extra space.
If your carer has difficulty pushing your wheelchair up the ramp then a winch can be fitted to help make the job easier. Some WAVs have automatic transmission and all come with power-assisted steering. Extras, such as additional heating or air conditioning, for example, can be added. But that might also add significantly to the price, too.
Perhaps the best way to see what wheelchair accessible vehicles are really all about is to try one. Whether as a driver or a passenger, take your mobility car out on a test drive. Test drive several. That way you're bound to find the one best suited for your own individual needs.
Motability - Over the past 30 years, Motability has helped more than three million disabled people get mobile by exchanging their mobility allowance for a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair - www.motability.co.uk