Wheelchair Van Safety

crash test dummy

When selecting a wheelchair van or handicapped vehicle, safety must be at the forefront of the decision. The Mobility Resource manufacturer partners use the latest technology to give wheelchair users the safest experience possible. Prior to any modifications, the original vehicle must meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). After the vehicle is modified for wheelchair accessibility, it is critical to confirm that the vehicle still meets all FMVSS safety standards and has been properly crash tested. Mobility manufacturers self-certify to FMVSS standards either via crash testing or through engineering analysis.  The Mobility Resource highly recommends certification through crash testing.

Beyond the original vehicle, modified vans include additional safety features to create an even safer environment for people with disabilities which is uniquely tailored to fit each individual’s needs. 

ADA Van Requirements

The ADA requires commercial handicapped vans to have several features in place before it can be certified as “ADA Compliant”. This helps insure the safest use for the widest population possible. These requirements include:

  • Lift door is at least 56 inches tall when opened,
  • Lift platform must be a minimum of 30 inches wide,
  • Four tie-down belts, a lap belt and a shoulder belt are included for security, and
  • If a wheelchair ramp is included, the following are required: 1:12 slope ratio, five feet of area at the top and bottom, width of 36 inches and handrails on either side are at least 34 inches tall.

Vehicle Safety Ratings

Our most popular wheelchair van models score consistently high IIHS safety ratings and often come with several specialized safety features.

The following list includes select van models and their safety highlights:

  • Chrysler Pacifica
    • 2019 Top Safety Pick
    • Superior crash prevention
    • Park assist sensors
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
    • Power adjustable pedals
    • Good traction and handling in harsh driving conditions
    • Seven air bags
  • Toyota Sienna
    • NHTSA 5-Star Overall Safety Rating
    • Eight air bags included in Toyota’s Star Safety System
    • Blind spot detection option
  • Honda Odyssey 
    • 2019 Top Safety Pick
    • Five seats include easy-to-use child seat anchors
    • Perfect IIHS Crashworthiness score
  • Ford Explorer
    • Most Trusted SUV Brand (Reader’s Digest Survey)
    • Lane departure warning/prevention technology
    • Pre-Collision Assist (automatic emergency braking)

The Mobility Resource has compiled a detailed list of the most popular vehicles available, which can be referenced on our vehicle resources page.

Safety Features for Drivers & Passengers with Disabilities

When a wheelchair van is modified, the goal is to not only improve the safety of the original vehicle, but also to make it far more accessible for the individuals who will be using it. The Mobility Resource recommends finding a qualified dealer near you to assess whether an existing vehicle can be converted, or if an existing conversion van should be purchased.

Wheelchair Securement

Wheelchair securements are vital aspect in the overall safety of a handicapped van. Wheelchair securements keep a wheelchair firmly in place while the vehicle is moving. The three main types of securements available are manual tie-downs, retractable tie-downs and power docking systems.  These have been proven to withstand crash testing and uphold safety regulations.

For more information about wheelchair securement features, click here.

Hand Controls

Hand controls allow drivers with limited mobility the ability to safely operate a vehicle. Basic mechanical hand controls allow the driver to operate the gas and brake without reaching the floor. Additional controls are available to allow for modifications to help with all secondary controls.  For drivers with more severe limitations, electronic and hi-tech drive-by-wire systems are available. In order for hand controls to be safe for drivers with limited mobility, a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist will complete an evaluation and training on the required equipment to confirm usability and safe operation.

For more information about hand control features, click here.