Just because you are restricted to a wheelchair does not mean you don't get to enjoy life. Not only can you ride in wheelchair vans, but if your disability allows you can drive wheelchair vans. There are a couple of mobility aids in addition to mobility lifts that can be installed in wheelchair vans allowing a handicapped person to drive or ride while remaining in the wheelchair.
Hand Controls for Wheelchair Bound Drivers
Depending on the severity of the handicap, it is more than likely that a wheelchair bound person will require hand controls. There are several different systems that provide for acceleration and braking with hand controls. Generally, those that allow you to keep both hands on the wheel during driving make the safest options. Some hand controls require more modifications to the dashboard than others. The important thing is that with whatever hand controls are chosen the driver is comfortable using them and has been well trained on their use.
Locking System for Wheelchairs
In order to remain in a wheelchair while riding in wheelchair vans, it must be securely locked into place. These locks are installed in the floor of the vehicle and may be manual or automatic. Those that allow you to roll into position and that lock automatically are certainly the most convenient and safest. There will be no forgetting tighten the restraints ensuring a secure ride. Most of these also come with mechanical releases in the event that the vehicle's battery dies and it doesn't work automatically.
Whenever you have a lock on the floor to secure the wheelchair, there also has to be a bracket on the wheelchair to attach to the lock. You should be sure that your wheelchair can accommodate whatever bracket is necessary for the locking system you intend to use. While most brackets work on a wide range of wheelchairs, it's advisable to check this before investing in a locking system. Likewise, if you already have a locking system and are buying a new wheelchair, you want to make sure it will work with the system you already have.
Automatic locking systems in wheelchair vans include a control panel that notifies you when the lock is closed and it's safe to travel. It also has warning indicators for anything that may be working improperly. The locking system will work for those that drive from the wheelchair, or simply passengers who remain in the wheelchair during travel.