With wheelchair vans, you want a good amount of headroom so you are comfortable when you enter and exit the vehicle. Standard vans have headroom measurements that aren’t suitable for wheelchair users. For example, an unmodified Dodge Caravan R/T’s headroom runs between 39.8 and 37.9 inches depending on the row. Many wheelchair accessible vehicles have a standard entry measurement of 56 inches or more from ceiling to floor.
If you’re not sure how much room you need, a Mobility Dealer can conduct a free Needs Analysis to determine your specific needs and recommend the correct products. This includes measuring from the floor to the top of your head when you are seated in your wheelchair. Regardless if you’re riding or driving, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough room to move around and see out the windows.
So how do you get extra room? There are a couple of options. You can have the roof raised. Basically, the vehicle’s roof will be cut out and a higher fiberglass top will be added. Although this give you the headroom required, it can significantly limit your visibility
The more popular way of adding space is by lowering the floor. This is done by cutting the floor out and then welding a new section lower to the ground. This is what is done to wheelchair accessible vans to accommodate a ramp system, to allow for someone in a chair to move around in the vehicle. Since this is a major modification that includes frame modifications and relocation of fuel tanks, you will want to make sure it is done by someone who crash tests the vehicle to Federal Motor Safety Standards. The lowered floor also significantly decreases the ramp angle allowing the person in the chair to easily roll into the vehicle. Different vehicles are lowered different amounts. You will want to try them out to make sure you find the best fit for you.
Not only is it good to determine the amount of headroom you’ll need, but you’ll also need to factor in the height of the vehicle doors. This will help you determine if you’ll be able to get in and out of the wheelchair van easily. If the doors are a problem, you’ll need to get them raised so you’ll have additional headroom when getting in and out of your wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Your local Mobility Dealer can show you your options which include both new and pre-owned vehicles. They have vehicles already converted for wheelchair access so you can make sure it fits your requirements.
Questions about vehicle modifications? The Mobility Resource is here to help.Contact us today to be connected to a dealer near you to conduct a Needs Analysis!