Whether you are driving a child, family member or friend, the safety and comfort of passengers with disabilities are very important. These accessories can help
Parents or family members may need to take on the responsibility of transporting their loved ones with disabilities if these individuals are unable to drive. This could be because the individual is too young or their disability prevents them from controlling the vehicle.
Although such a person would only be a passenger, adaptations may be required to ensure their convenience, comfort and safety.
Depending on the person’s level of mobility, it might be worth investing in transferring aids to assist them into and out of the vehicle. This can be as simple as purchasing a transfer board, or require spending a bit more, like having the vehicle fitted with a swivel seat. If a swivel seat seems too daunting, there are hoists available.
The Ardoo Caresafe 140 hoist, for example, is a foldable, transportable hoist that can be used to lift the passenger out of the vehicle. However, this will require setting up the hoist on the passenger side. The Milford Person Lift, on the other hand, is fitted inside the vehicle. Both are available from Shoprider. Prices on request.
Should the individual require a powered wheelchair, look into a wheelchair lift or ramp. There is a host of ramps and lifts to choose from, including single- or dual-arm lifts; manual or automatic ramps; and roll-up, foldable or solid ramps. Best contact the manufacturer or an occupational therapist to discuss the most suitable ramp.
Once a passenger with a disability is in the vehicle, it is important to ensure that they are safe and comfortable during the drive. Consider soft seat covers or additional support. A wheelchair user, for example, might require their pressure cushion when they’re seated in the vehicle – especially when travelling longer distances.
Be sure to place the pressure cushion on the seat before or as the individual is transferred into the vehicle. You might find that two cushions are convenient if the person travels regularly. A seat belt cover could provide additional comfort, especially for children. Various covers are available on Takealot.com.
For younger children with disabilities, it is important to purchase an adapted car seat that will support the child with their specific disability. Check that the seat offers posture support, for example.
Shonaquip offers the iziPositioner in-vehicle posture support seat, which is ideal for children who struggle to sit upright independently when transported in a vehicle. It comes with a chest strap, a height-adjustable headrest and a contoured seat cushion. However, the seat offers postural support only and is not a safety seat. Price on request.
If the vehicle is fitted with a lift or ramp to allow the passenger to remain in their wheelchair, it is important to make sure the wheelchair is fitted into place with a restraint system. This can be achieved with a wheelchair tie-down, a retractable or manually adjustable tie-down, a wheelchair seatbelt or a docking system. Always consult a specialist when implementing these restraint systems to ensure that the wheelchair and the passenger are secure in transit.
Keeping an eye on them
Parents of children with disabilities might experience some additional anxiety about their children’s comfort, posture and safety while driving. However, looking over your shoulder every so often is not a safe way to drive.
The Child View Car Mirror from Safety First is a great way to keep an eye on your child for peace of mind. The adjustable mirror can either be fitted to the back window to allow the driver to see the rear-facing child through the rear-view mirror or attached to the visor if the child is facing forward. It is available from Takealot.com for R79.