Top tips for EV drivers with disabilities

By Amy Fowler

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining an ever-growing reputation among drivers across the world. Not only are they seen as a far more environmentally-friendly alternative to petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, but they’ve also been lauded for their comfort, safety and adaptability. All of these aspects make EVs suitable for a wide range of drivers, including many people with disabilities who are seeking a more comfortable driving experience.

With the Paris Agreement prompting a global push to lower greenhouse gas emissions, it seems like EVs will be front and centre of the automotive industry for years to come. However, for many different reasons, South Africa has been behind the curve for EV uptake, and drivers have had very little choice when it comes to electric models.

Fortunately, manufacturers are beginning to offer a wider range in the South African market, and this should help to encourage more drivers to make the switch to electric. But for drivers with disabilities, there may be a few extra considerations needed to be made before swapping out your petrol-powered car. Here are three top tips for people with disabilities looking to purchase an EV.

Take a test drive

After you’ve been driving for many years, you might overlook the importance of a test drive when buying a new vehicle. But if you’re making the switch to an EV, be sure to take the time to test drive some different models, since the driving experience will be very different to what you’re used to.

Alternatively, to get a more holistic understanding of whether or not an EV is right for you, you can always rent one out for a set period of time. Integrate it into your daily routine, and see whether your local area will be compatible with EVs before you make the switch permanently.

Install a home charging point

In recent years, there has been a push to improve the infrastructure for EVs across the country. A huge part of this has been to make more charging stations readily available, even in remote areas. But efforts so far have predominantly focused on the larger, more populated cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town. Before purchasing an EV, it’s important to be aware of the nearest charging points to you.

Whether you’re living in a city or in a more rural area, it remains sound advice to install a domestic charging station for your personal use at home. Not only is a home station far more convenient, but it also could help improve your EVs eco credentials, if you’re using green energy to supply your home.

Enquire about accessible adjustments

Just like any other vehicle, EVs can be modified to suit the needs of drivers with different disabilities. It’s important to know just how your preferred model can be adjusted before investing, to ensure you will be as comfortable as possible in your new car.

There are many different accessible adaptations for EVs, including hand controls to help with accelerating and braking, and steering aids for people who have trouble handling a standard steering wheel. It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of EVs are automatic, meaning you won’t have to worry about a gearbox or handbrake, which can be a barrier to driving for many people with disabilities.

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