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Campaign Calls for Safer Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Published: 2012-05-15 - Updated: 2021-09-10
Author: Disabled Motoring UK | Contact: disabledmotoring.org

Synopsis: No Compromises safety campaign will urge buyers of wheelchair accessible cars to demand sled testing certificates to check a vehicle is as safe as possible. The reason testing is so vital after conversion to a wheelchair accessible vehicle is because converting a car is a complex process involving significant structural changes to the vehicle such as lowering the floor. The simple way to check whether a new car meets these standards is to ask to see its certification. Sled tested WAVs will have an ECWVTA.M1 certificate. But check that the certificate is for the conversion, not the original car.

Main Digest

Disabled Motoring UK is gearing up to campaign for a change in legislation that will improve the safety of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). The charity believes it is a moral and human right for people who travel in a wheelchair to be able to purchase a converted vehicle that has been properly tested and is as safe as the original car.

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The 'No Compromises!' safety campaign will urge buyers of wheelchair accessible cars to demand sled testing certificates - the only way to check a vehicle is as safe as possible. The campaign will also seek to change legislation so that only 'sled tested' vehicles can be sold.

Worryingly, the industry has seen up to 50 per cent of conversions that have passed other less significant tests fail the vital sled test. The reason testing is so vital after conversion to a wheelchair accessible vehicle is because converting a car is a complex process involving significant structural changes to the vehicle such as lowering the floor. If this is not done properly, and by experts, the car may be unsafe.

Helen Dolphin, Director of Policy and Campaigns for Disabled Motoring UK, said:

"It is amazing that vehicles are being sold that may not be safe for the drivers and their disabled passengers and we feel strongly that this most stop. We will be calling on the Government to change legislation so that people don't unknowingly purchase unsafe vehicles. Alongside this we will be educating people to make sure they ask the right questions before purchasing a converted car."

Constables Mobility's Managing Director David Constable, one of the experts supporting the campaign, explains:

"People who travel in wheelchairs have a right to a vehicle that has been properly tested so they are as safe as possible in the event of an accident. I strongly believe that all companies who convert cars should only be allowed to sell them if they have been successfully tested after conversion - including being sled tested - so the vehicle meets and exceeds the latest European safety standards. It's a moral and human right to have a car that has been converted safely."

From 29 April 2012, wheelchair accessible vehicles have to meet both the European standard for the car before it is converted and pass additional tests which check the changes made during the conversion process. However, not every conversion will have passed the same tests and it doesn't guarantee that sled testing has been carried out.

What is Sled Testing?

The sled test is similar to the crash testing that many of us have seen on TV a dummy is strapped into a wheelchair in the body of the car, which is then put through head-on collisions to check that both the belts and their fixings are strong enough to withstand a real-life accident and keep the wheelchair user secure.

Sled safety test
Sled safety test

Sled testing is the only means of proving that the cell (i.e. the conversion anchorage points together with the belts and tie-downs) is safe.

The industry has witnessed a 50 per cent failure rate with the wheelchair and occupant sled test, even when the conversion has previously been pull-tested and the belts and tie-downs have been tested separately by the belt manufacturer. It is when the constituent parts are put together as a complete system that they fail.

Why is Testing Important?

How do people make sure the vehicle they are buying is safe for the driver and wheelchair user?

Converting a car to make it wheelchair accessible is a complex process involving significant structural changes to the vehicle such as lowering the floor. If this is not done properly, and by experts, the car may be unsafe. The simple way to check whether a new car meets these standards is to ask to see its certification. Sled tested WAVs will have an ECWVTA.M1 certificate. But do check that the certificate is for the conversion, not the original car.

Primary Information Source(s):

Campaign Calls for Safer Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles | Disabled Motoring UK (disabledmotoring.org). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled Motoring UK. (2012, May 15). Campaign Calls for Safer Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. Disabled World. Retrieved September 18, 2021 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/transport/safer-vehicles.php