What is a WAV car? An Introduction to Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles can be an essential part of everyday life for wheelchair users. They can offer the user a way of maintaining their independence with a vehicle that allows them to drive, or travel as a passenger.
There are a few different types of WAV, including WAVs for mobility scooters, small WAVs and large WAVs, which are closer in size to commercial vehicles.
What is a WAV?
WAV stands for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is a vehicle that has been specially adapted to make travel or driving easier for wheelchair users.
You might also have come across the terms DAC, which stands for Disabled Access Car, and DAV, which stands for Disabled Access Vehicle. These can refer to both WAVs and other mobility vehicles, although the terms are less widely used than WAV.
What kind of car is a WAV?
A WAV is not a particular type or model of car – any car that has been modified or adapted to make it into a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a WAV. There are several different kinds of car that are suitable for adaptation, depending on what the wheelchair user needs.
Commercial vehicles, which may have been designed to accommodate packages and boxes, can make a good choice for adapting for wheelchair accessibility as they often have lower floors, more headroom and a square rear, offering a more straightforward transformation to a rear entry WAV.
What makes a car a WAV?
A WAV will have details or adaptations that are designed around the specific needs of the wheelchair user and their wheelchair. They can have features that make them suitable for a mobility scooter or different types of wheelchair.
Some of the adaptations that a WAV might feature are:
- Wheelchair occupant seat belts, an essential part of WAV safety, are made up of a shoulder belt and a lap belt and are secured to the floor of the vehicle
- A gently sloping access ramp, so that the wheelchair user can easily get in and out of the vehicle
- A lowered floor or a raised roof, offering additional headroom when entering and leaving the vehicle
- A wide door at the back or the side of the vehicle
- Removable front seats, allowing the wheelchair user access to either the driver or passenger side of the car
- A wheelchair lift, which is often a powered lift giving an easier way of getting in and out of the vehicle
Types of WAV
There are several different types of WAV made by a wide variety of manufacturers, but generally they can be divided into two main categories: WAVs for wheelchair passengers and WAVs for wheelchair drivers.
WAVs for wheelchair passengers
There are two kinds of WAVs for wheelchair passengers: rear passenger and upfront passenger WAVs.
Just as the name suggests, in a rear passenger WAV the wheelchair passenger will travel in the back of the vehicle. Access can be through a large door either at the back or the side of the vehicle, with a wheelchair ramp and sometimes a powered winch giving additional help with entering and leaving. Wheelchair restraints in the roomy back of the vehicle make sure the wheelchair passenger stays safe throughout their journey.
In an upfront passenger WAV, the wheelchair user will be in the front passenger seat position within the vehicle. In these, the front passenger seat is removed, making space for the wheelchair passenger next to the driver.
WAVs for wheelchair drivers
There are two types of WAVs for wheelchair drivers: internal transfer WAVs and drive from WAVs.
An internal transfer WAV is best suited to drivers who are able to safely transfer to a ‘standard’ driver seat from their wheelchair. Typically, a transfer WAV will have a powered rotating seat that allows the driver to transfer from their wheelchair in the rear of the vehicle before turning around into the driving position.
Drive from WAVs are designed to allow the driver to remain in their wheelchair whilst driving. They’re the best WAVs for drivers who cannot or prefer not to transfer from their wheelchair to a standard seat. A drive from WAV can also allow the wheelchair user to travel as a passenger in their vehicle, as the standard driver seat can be replaced for those times when they would rather allow a companion to drive.
How can I get a WAV?
If you or someone you know is a wheelchair user and you think a WAV might be right for you, the best thing to do first is to find a WAV supplier and take a look at some of the wheelchair vehicles available. At Ransome Mobility, our advisors are very happy to support you in finding your perfect WAV.
A great way to find out if a WAV is right for you, or to try out a vehicle with specific features, is to hire one before taking the next step into buying one for yourself.
Ransome Mobility has a wide variety of WAVs for sale or hire.
If you’d like to find out any more information about WAVS, then please contact us.