The mobility industry is an interesting one, for many reasons, but mainly because it’s somewhat elusive. What I mean is that information is sometimes difficult to gather. For this post, I will concentrate on crash testing because it is interesting to look at differences between buying a regular vehicle and buying a converted van for wheelchair accessibility.
When you shop for a regular vehicle, let’s say a Honda Odyssey minivan, do you question whether the vehicle has passed all the government safety requirements? Probably not, I never have. I have purchased 4 cars in my life and never once asked if the vehicle had been crash tested. It is something I think the majority of us just assume, that the vehicle we are buying has been crash tested, and has passed.
Did you know that all modifiers of vehicles, like VMI, have to re-crash the vans we build after they are modified. Since we change the structure of the original vehicle, by cutting off the floor, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) requires the van be crash tested again.
When you are shopping for wheelchair accessible vans, ensure the van you are looking at passes all NHTSA crash test requirements. This especially becomes important when shopping the manufacturers who sell wheelchair vans direct and don’t use a network of Mobility Equipment Dealers. How do you verify that these companies have passed all federal regulations in terms of crash testing the van? I would first contact NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) and determine what is required. I would then contact the manufacturer of the van you are looking at purchasing and ask them to provide the documentation that they have passed these requirements.