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Wheelchairs for WAVs

It's advisable to choose your wheelchair before getting your wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) if you can, users say. That way you can make sure the WAV will fit your wheelchair.
Wheelchair above docking system
Wheelchair fitted with docking system

If you are getting a new wheelchair, discuss this with your wheelchair service (if you have one) or the supplier. They should be able to advise on the suitability of any wheelchair for use in a WAV. Think about any changes to your condition and your wheelchair during the lifetime of the WAV.

Not all wheelchairs are suitable for use in a WAV, and some are incompatible with some tie-downs. Discuss this with whoever is doing your assessment and with the converter.

Some wheelchairs have been specifically safety tested for use in a vehicle (this is sometimes known as crash testing), but not all manufacturers do this.

Just because a wheelchair hasn't been tested doesn't necessarily mean it isn't suitable. However, the wheelchair does need to have dedicated attachment points for tie-downs if you're using them. On newer wheelchairs, these will be clearly indicated.

It's also important to have a head restraint to help prevent whiplash injuries.

Automatic docking systems require a spigot or plate to be fixed to the wheelchair. These are incompatible with some wheelchairs; with others, they decrease the ground clearance of the wheelchair, which can make it difficult or impossible to drive over uneven terrain. You need to ask both your wheelchair provider and the conversion company about this.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.
This information is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products.

Last updated: August 2018

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