An Upfront Passenger Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (also known as a ‘Ride Upfront WAV’) is a vehicle that has been specially converted so that the wheelchair user can travel comfortably in their wheelchair at the front of the vehicle. Could an Upfront Passenger WAV - travelling next to the driver instead of the rear of the vehicle - be the right solution for you? Here, Sirus Automotive Associate and Occupational Therapist Joanne Weaver tells us about some of the benefits of sitting in the front alongside the vehicle driver in an Upfront Passenger WAV.
When thinking about a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (often referred to as a WAV or mobility vehicle) you need to ensure that it is going to meet your individual lifestyle, physical and mental requirements. There are many Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles on the market where you can choose to sit in the back, in the front as a passenger, or drive. The option of sitting in the front next to the driver is becoming an increasingly popular choice, especially for couples, families (where the child/children sit in the back) or for assistive requirements, i.e., communication.
Sitting in the front next to the driver enables the wheelchair user to remain in their wheelchair and sit close to their family, partner, or carer in the front of the vehicle. It enables easy access to the in-car controls such as the radio, air conditioning and windows. It provides a much better view and allows the wheelchair user to take in the scenery and enjoy the journey.
Sitting in the front is a more sociable way to travel, people feel included in conversations and less isolated as sitting close to the driver enables you communicate more easily. It would also be beneficial for people who struggle with hearing or are not able to speak loudly. It may also reduce travel anxieties enabling you to travel further which may have a positive effect on your confidence and wellbeing.
One of the main benefits of being an upfront passenger is that the wheelchair user can sit upfront without having to transfer. It can often be a struggle to transfer to and from a car seat, which can use up lots of valuable time and energy. Avoiding a transfer can also reduce risk of injury to the carer/driver if they usually provide physical support.
If you are a carer or personal assistant, the option of the wheelchair user sitting upfront has many benefits, for example if the passenger has a condition that requires closer monitoring, or a condition that requires verbal prompts or reassurance throughout a journey.
A disadvantage of sitting in the back of a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is that you may struggle with travel sickness. This can be made worse by the poor vision out of the back windows. It may also feel like a bumpier ride in the back. If you are feeling unwell, it is much easier to communicate with the driver if you are side by side.
When considering your next Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, try to ensure it is going to meet your individual requirements now and, in the future. Do consider all physical and mental health conditions and if you think your needs may change, i.e., your ability to transfer, the number of people travelling in the vehicle, and any needs of your carer.
Joanne Weaver is an Occupational Therapist who works with Sirus Automotive – the UK’s largest provider of upfront passenger and drive from wheelchair vehicles.
MotaClarity is a motoring website for drivers with a disability and carers. For more information about driving with a disability and to search and compare great deals on thousands of cars and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles visit www.motaclarity.co.uk.