The Ultimate Guide To Driving For People With Disabilities

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    Driving with a disability presents unique challenges. At Arash Law, we understand your situation. You may encounter unique traffic rules and regulations applicable only to your condition and potential biases from other road users. For this reason, we created this guide to empower you on the road. We want you to know your rights as a driver with disabilities, understand how to stay safe on the road, and feel comfortable seeking support or compensation if you are injured in a traffic accident.

    With the right knowledge and resources, you can drive confidently and independently. Allow us to guide you through:

    • Choosing the right vehicle and adaptations for your needs
    • Understanding the licensing process and how to protect your rights to drive
    • Driving defensively and minimizing risks specific to your disability
    • Using your parking privileges correctly and confidently
    • Knowing what to do if you get into an accident

    Always remember that laws are in place to protect drivers with disabilities, but they can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re starting to drive. Let us help provide clarity and show that you have the same opportunities on the road as everyone else.

    The Basics Of Pre-Driving, Modifications, And Traffic Laws For People With Disabilities

    Careful preparation is essential, whether the driver has a disability or not. To prepare for your journey, let us look at the fundamentals of driving that you need to know:

    • Getting A Learner’s Permit

      It’s important to note that getting a learner’s permit for someone with a disability follows a similar process for those without. It emphasizes the quality, accessibility, and inclusivity of American driving. You will have to take the written test, which covers essential knowledge of traffic rules and regulations. Upon passing, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will give you a provisional instruction permit that allows you to take practical driving lessons.

    • Modifying Your Vehicle

      Vehicle modifications can make driving more accessible if you have a disability. These adjustments include adaptations like hand controls for throttle, braking, signaling, and steering, making it easier for people with disabilities to drive safely among other drivers.

    • Passing The Road Test

      You may proceed with the road test after getting lessons and modifying your car. Success in this test will demonstrate your proficiency in handling a vehicle safely, including obeying traffic laws. You will also receive a driver’s license after you complete it.

    • Following The Rules Of The Road

      There are typically no additional driving requirements aside from displaying a special license plate and a placard indicating that you’re a person with disabilities. The DMV’s regulations for disabled persons’ parking placards and license plates ensure that people with mobility issues can more easily access public and private spaces.

      Misuse of these placards is not only illegal but also undermines the rights of those who genuinely need them. Our personal injury lawyers here at Arash Law advocate for awareness and proper use of these privileges to support our clients and the broader community in achieving fair access and equal rights.

    Safety Driving Tips All Drivers With Disabilities Should Know

    Driving can be a valuable form of independence for people with disabilities. We want to ensure that you are safe and able to enjoy your driving experience. Here are our best safety driving tips that all drivers with disabilities should know:

    Choose Buying Or Modifying The Safest Vehicle You Can

    Modern vehicles have many safety features, like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and automatic emergency braking. These innovations can significantly enhance your safety, especially when you have a disability. While newer cars may come with a higher price tag, they can offer you peace of mind and potential savings on fuel for maintenance and in the long run.

    Maintain Your Vehicle

    Regular maintenance is crucial for any car, but even more so if you rely on your vehicle for mobility and medical needs. Follow your vehicle’s recommended service schedule, check fluids regularly, and always use the correct grade of oil or fuel. Always keep your vehicle in top shape to prevent breakdowns and accidents on the road.

    Adapt Your Vehicle

    Work with your Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialists (CDRS) to identify the most suitable modifications for your needs. These could include hand controls, wheelchair lifts, or specialized seating. Having a basic first aid kit in your car can also make a difference in case you get injured in a minor car accident. In addition, make sure your mirrors are adjusted correctly for optimal visibility.

    Stay Calm And Practice Defensive Driving

    Maintaining composure and focusing on defensive driving make roads safer for everyone. Obey speed limits, use turn signals as needed, avoid distractions, and anticipate the actions of other drivers. You never know who or what you will encounter on the road. If weather conditions are poor, you may want to consider postponing your trip to minimize the risk of getting into an accident. Always remember to buckle up, regardless of whether you’re a driver or a passenger.

    Avoid Drowsy Driving And Driving Under The Influence

    Drowsiness impairs judgment and reaction time. If you’re feeling tired, pull over and rest. Also, never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substance that could affect your abilities. This practice is illegal and incredibly dangerous for you and the drivers around you. Always prioritize your safety and the safety of others.

    Equip Your Vehicle With Necessary Tools

    Always be prepared for unexpected situations on the road. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with essential emergency equipment, such as:

    • Spare tires and necessary tools (jack, lug wrench, etc.)
    • Jumper cables
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • First-aid kit
    • Basic tool kit
    • Road flares or reflective triangles
    Plan Your Route

    Thorough planning can help make your driving experience smoother and less stressful. Utilize GPS navigation tools, map out your route beforehand, and consider traveling during off-peak hours to avoid traffic congestion. If your mobility is impaired, being subjected to traffic jams can get uncomfortable and even painful for you.

    Always Carry Your Parking Permit

    If you have a disabled parking permit, always keep it readily accessible. Always keep your placard and plates visible. Respect designated parking spaces and use them only when entitled.

    As Much As Possible, Don’t Drive Late At Night

    Driving at night can be challenging due to reduced visibility. If possible, travel during daylight hours. When night driving is unavoidable, ensure your headlights and taillights are clean and functional, and use your high beams responsibly when appropriate.

    Give Yourself Enough Time To Reach Your Destination

    Always factor in extra time when traveling, especially to unfamiliar destinations. Rushing increases stress and the likelihood of mistakes. Doing so increases the risk of getting injured in a speed-related accident or accidents related to running red lights. Allowing enough time to reach your destination lets you calmly get through any unexpected delays or detours.

    Take Breaks On Long Drives

    Staying alert is critical for safe driving, especially on long drives. Schedule regular breaks to stretch your legs, rest your eyes, and re-energize. For drivers with disabilities, stretching can help you relieve pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back. Taking short breaks will help prevent fatigue and keep you focused on the road.

    Consider Supplementary Driving Lessons

    If you’ve made significant modifications to your vehicle, taking additional driving lessons can be beneficial. Specialized instructors can help you master the new adaptations that cater to your specific disability. This can help boost your confidence and address any concerns you might have about your adjustments. You may contact your local driving rehabilitation center or the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED).

    The risk of getting into a car crash is always present while you’re on the road. These incidents can happen even to the most cautious drivers. When injured in a car accident because of a reckless driver, remember that you have rights that need protecting.

    At Arash Law, we understand that driving can be extremely challenging for individuals with disabilities. We want to help keep you safe and confident behind the wheel. Our team hopes these driving tips empower you to experience the freedom and independence that come with being on the road.

    Steps To Plan Your Travels As A Driver With Disabilities

    Even a little planning goes a long way for a driver who has a disability. Preparation can immensely help lessen the stress of driving, the pressure on your body, and the overall risks of getting into an accident. Here are the steps to make your journey smoother:

    Steps To Plan Your Travels As A Driver With Disabilities

    Step 1 — Plan Your Routes In Advance

    Plan your routes with accessibility in mind. Some apps, like Google Maps or the Wheelmap app, allow you to search for wheelchair-accessible restrooms or facilities with specific access features. However, under no circumstances should you use them when driving.

    Additionally, look for gas stations with wider spaces. This provides extra space to maneuver your vehicle and access wheelchair ramps when necessary. Avoid heavy traffic or steep hills as much as possible. Doing so minimizes stress, reduces strain on your vehicle, and helps if fatigue is a huge factor in your disability.

    Step 2 — Check For Accommodations

    If you’re staying overnight, accessibility means more than just a labeled room. You should always inquire about the following:

    • Grab Bars In The Bathroom And Shower — Are they securely placed for your needs?
    • Doorway Widths — Can they accommodate your wheelchair or mobility aid?
    • Parking Accessibility — Is there a ramp, or will you need extra assistance getting into your parking space? Is the parking lot nearby?

    Don’t just take a hotel’s word for it being accessible. Look for photos and detailed reviews on websites that cater to travelers with disabilities. Knowing what to expect helps avoid disappointment and lets you focus on enjoying your trip.

    Step 3 — Pack Smart

    Bring backup medications, a basic toolkit for your assistive devices (if applicable), and any comfort items that make long journeys easier for you. This can include a cold or hot pack, small pillows, or clothing that helps you be more comfortable while driving down the road.

    Step 4 — Travel With Confidence

    You want to get to your destination safely and without any problems. Avoid rushing, especially if you use assistive devices or need frequent breaks. This extra time can further lower your stress, give you flexibility, and help you manage unexpected situations, like avoiding accidents that can inflict minor to catastrophic injuries on you and your passengers.

    Finding Resources For Drivers With Disabilities

    Government resources, like DOT websites, are widely accessible in many states. These resources help you get travel information. You may also be referred to advocacy organizations focused on your specific disability. They can help you access resources and recommendations tailored specifically to your needs.

    Planning is more about empowerment than limitations. Research can maximize your freedom on the road and minimize the potential for frustrating surprises.

    How Do I Overcome Driving Anxiety?

    It’s completely natural to experience some anxiety about driving, more so if you have disabilities or have been injured in a prior driving accident. Trying to ignore these feelings rarely makes them disappear. Hence, the first step towards managing them is acknowledging what’s causing you worry. Are you concerned about your ability to handle certain situations? Do other drivers make you nervous?

    Don’t feel pressured to tackle everything at once. You may practice or begin with short drives in familiar areas, perhaps during quieter times of the day. Afterward, gradually increase the distance or difficulty as your confidence grows. The more positive experience you have behind the wheel, the stronger your trust in your vehicle and skills will become.

    If driving anxiety feels overwhelming, do not hesitate to reach out for support. Specialized driving lessons for disabled drivers can help you build skills, while therapy can teach you valuable coping strategies to manage anxiety on the road.

    Driving anxiety can significantly limit your approach to getting behind the wheel. Overcoming it isn’t about becoming fearless but rather developing a healthy, realistic understanding of your capabilities and learning to manage the stresses of driving.

    Driving Laws For People With Disabilities

    People with disabilities have the same right to the open road as anyone else. Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the state of California work together to support your independence and safety. Understanding these regulations can empower you to exercise your driving privileges and access the resources you need.

    What Is The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?

    The ADA is a cornerstone of disability rights and is being implemented to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. For drivers with disabilities, it provides several key protections:

    • Accessible Parking — The ADA mandates designated parking spaces with clear markings for people with disabilities. These spaces are typically closer to building entrances, making getting in and out of your vehicle easier.
    • Public Buildings And Services — When it comes to public transportation and services, the ADA ensures accessibility features like ramps, elevators, and wider doorways in buildings open to the public. People with mobility impairments will be able to navigate such areas easier since there will be no physical barriers in their way.
    • Non-Discrimination — The DMV cannot deny a driver’s license solely because of a disability. The ADA protects your right to obtain a license if you can demonstrate your ability to operate a vehicle safely, potentially with accommodations for your specific needs.
    • Gas Station Assistance — The ADA ensures equal access to gas stations. You are entitled to the same self-service prices as everyone else. Additionally, you can request assistance from a gas station attendant for refueling if needed.
    State Motor Vehicle Laws

    State motor vehicle laws vary in their approach to licensing disabled drivers. Individuals who pass examinations with accommodations for their disabilities are generally eligible for a license.

    California has its own set of driving laws tailored to accommodate disabilities. Let’s explore some key statutes within the California Vehicle Code:

    • Licensing — The state aims to be inclusive for drivers with disabilities. You may qualify for a California driver’s license if you can operate a vehicle safely with accommodations such as hand controls or special equipment. Remember to disclose your disability on your application.
    • Restrictions — According to California Vehicle Code Section 12813, The DMV may restrict your license depending on the nature of your disability.
    • Parking Placards And Plates — California offers special placards and license plates for qualified drivers with disabilities. Based on California Vehicle Code Section 22511.55, you can access placards and plates that allow you to park in designated spaces. You can visit the California DMV website to learn how to apply for the application process.
    Vehicle Modification Law

    Modification laws are enforced both at the state and federal levels. These regulations oversee the installation of adaptive equipment in vehicles.

    In California, all modifications and repairs must meet the standards of the Fleet Administration Division of the Department of General Services, according to Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 9, § 7165.

    Federal and state laws work together to regulate vehicle modifications for drivers with disabilities. Key sources to consider:

    • Federal Regulations — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets federal safety standards for vehicle modifications.
    • State Regulations — Always practice due diligence to ensure your vehicle modifications are compliant. The Department of Transportation (DOT), NHTSA, and DMV have abundant resources to start with. For California residents, the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) also contributes as a regulatory body.
    • Approved Installers — Only certified installers who meet specific qualifications and safety standards can make modifications. This requirement is especially important if you’re seeking funding assistance from agencies like the DOR.
    • Safety Exceptions — Some modifications may be exempt from the modification rules if they aren’t suitable for your specific needs. A thorough medical assessment and documentation of your disability-related needs may be necessary.

    What Kinds Of Disabilities Allow You To Drive Legally?

    People with different conditions and disabilities can still safely operate a vehicle, even if they use wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Drivers with the following disabilities are allowed to drive:

    • Absent Limbs — Individuals with missing limbs because of congenital conditions or amputations often use advanced prosthetics or vehicle modifications that allow them to drive.
    • Reduced Limb Function — If you have limited strength or movement in your limbs, specialized adaptations like hand controls or steering aids can assist you in driving.
    • Spinal Cord Injuries — You may still be able to drive if you’ve suffered spinal cord injuries, depending on their severity and location.
    • Mobility Issues From Degenerative Disorders, Diseases, Heart Attacks, Or Strokes — Diseases or conditions affecting mobility, like arthritis or Parkinson’s, may require vehicle customization to cater to your specific needs.
    • Muscular Dystrophy And Other Neuromuscular Diseases — This is a group of genetic disorders characterized by progressive weakening and loss of muscle mass. Depending on your condition, you may still be allowed to drive, but with proper accommodations to keep you safe.
    • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) And Cognitive Conditions — Cognitive or physical impairments from traumatic brain injuries require careful assessment. Depending on the person’s condition, technologies and vehicle modifications can support driving capability.
    • Cystic Fibrosis — While primarily affecting the lungs, this condition may introduce challenges that are manageable with the right vehicle adjustments to ensure safe driving.
    • Multiple Sclerosis, Paraplegia, And Hemiplegia — Special controls and adaptations are necessary and available to you if you’re facing paralysis or nerve-related mobility issues. If the vehicle is adapted to meet your specific needs, you can continue to drive it safely.

    How To Get A Driver’s License For People With Disabilities

    Preparing for a driver’s license requires a proactive approach. Discuss and address potential driving limitations with your doctor early on. Afterward, you should consult with a CDRS. They can provide specific recommendations for your condition so you know how to go about your driving assessment and getting your license.

    The licensing process may involve additional steps to determine if you can drive safely and what, if any, adaptations you might need. These are:

    • You possess the skills to drive with adaptations or restrictions if required.
    • Your condition is well-controlled and unlikely to worsen suddenly.

    If you’re ready to get your license, here are some of the steps you should take:

    1. Get Your Medical Evaluation — Your doctor must complete a form detailing your condition and its impact on driving. You may need a specialist to assess you, depending on your disability.
    2. Get Reviewed By The DMV — The DMV will review your medical forms and might ask for additional tests if necessary. These could come in the form of written examinations, vision tests, or driving tests to see if you are a good fit to drive on the road.
    3. Consult With A Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (DRS) — You may be recommended for a specialized driving assessment if the DMV has concerns.
    4. Get Your License — Based on your assessment results, the DMV can decide to have you licensed. Of course, restrictions, such as only driving with hand controls, will be applied if necessary.

    The DMV’s goal is safety, not to keep you off the road. Delays and frustrations may happen during the licensing process. If it gets complicated as you go, especially when you’re facing discrimination, you can turn to the ADA for support.

    Requirements For Taking Driving Lessons For Drivers With Disabilities

    Various driving centers provide lessons for people with disabilities. They can also offer assistance in vehicle modification to suit people with various physical or medical conditions. This includes advice on fitting carriers for wheelchairs, ramps, and special controls that help you properly operate your car.

    Here are the basic requirements you have to meet so you can start your driving lessons immediately:

    You Must Be At Least 15 ½ Years Old

    You can start your driving lessons as early as 15 ½ years old, according to the California DMV. Remember, all new drivers must take professional driving lessons before applying for a license. Disabled drivers must look for qualified and DMV-accredited driving schools and instructors that will cater to their situation.

    The Vehicle Must Be Modified According To Your Disability

    Your car must be altered to fit and cater to your disability. However, only those who have received authorization from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) should make modifications, and they must all adhere to all applicable federal and state laws.

    Pass The Knowledge Test

    Resources like California’s Driving Handbook and Sample Driver’s License Knowledge Tests are readily available on the DMV’s website.

    Defensive Driving For People With Disabilities

    Defensive driving puts you in the best position to avoid accidents caused by negligence. You can’t control other drivers’ actions on the road. This is why it is a vital skill for everyone, especially drivers with disabilities.

    To be extra vigilant, you should look out for the following:

    You should be adapting your driving style accordingly, allowing for any limitations you may have in reaction time or visibility.

    Maintaining enough space around your vehicle makes it safer for you. Leave plenty of following distance and room to maneuver, especially in congested traffic. Keeping your distance gives you valuable time to react in case an accident happens.

    It’s also essential to be aware of your state while driving. Ask yourself these questions:

    • Am I feeling sleepy, tired, or fatigued in general?
    • Did I take certain medications that could hinder my driving?
    • Did I drink too much alcohol?

    Never drive if you feel impaired in any way. If you’re not at your best, adjust your plans or ask for help.

    Focus is your greatest asset. Driving with a disability sometimes requires additional concentration. Minimize distractions like loud music or hands-free phone calls to maintain your awareness. Under no circumstances should you use your phone or any device that can remove your sight from the road for even a split second.

    What Are The Possible Vehicle Adaptations And Modifications I Can Use For My Car?

    What Are The Possible Vehicle Adaptations And Modifications I Can Use For My Car

    Getting the right vehicle setup is the key to safe, independent driving with a disability. Adaptations range from simple to highly specialized, and what you need depends entirely on your specific situation. Some common vehicle adaptations and modifications include the following:

    • Hand Controls — For individuals with limited leg mobility or paralysis, hand controls allow you to accelerate and brake using hand levers. This tool can help restore driving capabilities even after injuries or conditions like paraplegia.
    • Steering Aid — People with problems with grip strength, arthritis, or amputations can benefit from steering aids that make it easier and less painful to steer their vehicles. Modified grips, knobs, and spinners are all options for different needs.
    • Wheelchair Lifts And Ramps—Drivers using wheelchairs or scooters can enter and exit their vehicles independently. Having access to cars, even without assistance, is essential. These lifts and ramps also allow you to store your wheelchairs and scooters.
    • Specialized Seating—Seats that swivel, lower, or offer added support can improve comfort and safety during transfers. These options can greatly benefit those who use mobility devices or suffer from back pain.

    Since the cost of modifications and adaptive vehicles can be expensive, you can connect with government offices, insurance companies, and non-government organizations that can help with your finances. Try approaching the DOR, nonprofits, and organizations offering financial aid for people with disabilities. Certain modifications may also qualify for tax deductions.

    Vehicle Modification Tips For People With Disabilities

    Specific adjustments and modifications may vary based on your disability. Part of this guide is to help you choose modifications, or even a new vehicle, that make it easier for you to drive. Here are some key requirements for choosing or modifying your vehicle for better accessibility:

    • Choose an automatic transmission for easier driving.
    • Make sure the shifter is easy to use and has no buttons.
    • Power steering, windows, locks, and seats can help with the convenience of adjusting your driving position accordingly.
    • Make sure there is enough room for your wheelchair.
    • Check for recessed seat belts for easier access to them.
    • Hand grips are essential for your stability inside the car you drive.
    • Consider a leg lifter if you need help getting in.
    • Have a transfer board ready if you need to move between your wheelchair and the driver’s seat.
    • Hand controls are a must for using the throttle and brake if you can’t use foot pedals.
    • Add push-button ignition and touchscreen controls, or modify your vehicle so you can get up and go easily.
    Why Is Customization Important In Cars For People With Disabilities?

    Proper adaptations and modifications are an investment in your safety and freedom. Getting access to accredited dealers that apply these changes is important. Improper alterations can increase accident risk and may even impact your insurance coverage or potential compensation after an incident.

    The right adaptations are a personal choice. For personalized assessments and recommendations, only look for reputable installers who specialize in disability modifications.

    How Does Adaptive Driving Help People With Disabilities?

    Adaptive driving uses specialized equipment and technology to help people operate vehicles safely within their abilities while also following traffic rules.

    You can now drive yourself instead of relying on others for transportation by using hand controls instead of pedals. If your condition limits the use of one hand, a spinner knob can make steering easier. Meanwhile, vehicle modifications like wheelchair lifts and ramps open up a world of possibilities for both drivers and passengers.

    Naturally, learning to drive with these adaptations can be a challenge. CDRSs and occupational therapists play a vital role in this process. With their expertise, training, and access to specialized equipment, they guide individuals with disabilities, like you or a loved one. Through the learning process, they can help you build skills and instill confidence for a positive driving experience.

    What Are The Benefits Of Adaptive Driving For People With Disabilities?

    We’ve seen firsthand how adaptive driving training transforms lives. The most profound benefit is the independence and freedom it offers. Imagine running errands, visiting friends, or taking that road trip you’ve always dreamed of — all without depending on others for transportation.

    For many people with disabilities, driving is the key to a fulfilling work life. Having a reliable modified vehicle opens up job opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible, especially in small towns or cities with limited public transportation. While ridesharing services exist, they may not always be readily available or accommodating to the needs of individuals with disabilities.

    Beyond the practical aspects, driving has a significant impact on social engagement. Adaptive training empowers individuals with disabilities to attend events, connect with loved ones, and pursue hobbies without the logistical hurdles of arranging transportation. A driver’s license isn’t just about physical mobility; it’s about breaking down social barriers and enabling people to live their lives to the fullest.

    Should I Modify Or Buy A New Vehicle?

    Making this decision isn’t always easy. It may be possible to easily and cheaply modify a car you have in your garage. Or a newer generation car might have better safety technologies installed.

    Some of the things you should do to make a fully informed decision about your vehicle are:

    1. Check If Your Vehicle Can Be Modified — Not every vehicle can be modified for accessibility. Having an automatic transmission and electrically operated adjustments in your driving position can help. Newer vehicles are generally better for modifications.
    2. Know What Modifications You Need — Do you need handrails, ramps, or lifts? Modifications can vary from small adjustments to large conversions. Consulting with a DRS under the Mobility Evaluation Program can help you know what to look for in a modified vehicle.
    3. Understand Driving Laws For People With Disabilities — Not even people with disabilities are above the law. Stay updated on regulations regarding vehicle modifications and driving with a disability. You can check out the DMV and ADA and make sure that your modifications meet the legal requirements.

    When you have significant mobility limitations, a new vehicle design with better accessibility might be the best long-term solution. Don’t only compare the total cost of modifying your current car to the price of a newer model with built-in accessibility features. Consider the pros and cons of each option carefully.

    Pros And Cons Of Modifying Your Existing Vehicle
    Pros Of Modifying Your Existing Vehicle Cons Of Modifying Your Existing Vehicle
    • Potentially More Affordable — Depending on modifications, you could be saving on huge expenses compared to buying a new car.
    • Familiarity — You’ve been using this car already. This means you’re already comfortable with its layout and features.
    • A Vehicle You Love — If attachment to your car is an issue, then modifications allow you to retain it.
    • May Not Be Suitable — Older cars or those without the basic safety features that newer cars offer might not be good candidates for modification.
    • Installation Time — Modifications will make your car unavailable for quite some time. For older models, you may also experience longer waiting times due to additional modifications and support that fit your equipment
    • Resale Value — Modifications may decrease the resale value. This could be less of a concern if you plan to drive the car long-term.
    Pros And Cons Of Buying A New Vehicle
    Pros Of Buying A New Vehicle Cons Of Buying A New Vehicle
    • Tailored Accessibility — Depending on the nature of the vehicle, it may have built-in accessibility options that are designed with modifications in mind.
    • Latest Safety Features — Most newer cars have advanced car safety technology like driving assistance, lane keep assist, and anti-lock braking system (ABS), among others.
    • Warranty — New vehicles have warranties attached to them. These generally save you money on car repairs and maintenance.
    • Higher Cost — A new car might be heavy on your pockets. It’s generally a bigger investment than modifying an existing one.
    • Adjustment Period — Getting used to a new car and its features takes time. Nowadays, newer cars have more installed technology. There are features and functions you have yet to explore.
    • Finding The Right Fit — Sourcing a vehicle with all your needed accessibility and features may require extensive research. It could be more difficult for people with disabilities. Some dealerships do not have the tools and capabilities to conduct test drives.

    The best choice will depend entirely on your individual needs, your budget, and the suitability of your current vehicle.

    Are There Any Manufacturer Discounts Or Rebates For Adaptive Equipment?

    Vehicle manufacturers recognize that adapting a car for accessibility can be expensive. According to the NHTSA, simple modifications can cost up to $1,000, while new vehicles with adaptive equipment can range from $20,000 to $80,000.

    Thankfully, many offer reimbursement programs to help offset costs. General Motors Mobility Assistance and Ford Mobility Motoring are two examples. They can potentially provide up to $1,000 in assistance for eligible adaptive equipment installations.

    You should also consider government programs that help with financing your modified vehicle. Medicare and Medicaid may cover some adaptive equipment costs.

    If you are mobility impaired, it’s always best to consider adaptive equipment. Just proceed with caution. Ensure the equipment is compatible with your vehicle and have it professionally inspected before purchase. Also, warranties don’t typically transfer to new owners, so factor this in when buying second-hand cars.

    How To Maintain A Modified Vehicle For Drivers With Disabilities

    Any car needs proper maintenance, but when you rely on specialized adaptations, it becomes even more crucial. It’s not just a hassle when it breaks down; it can directly impact your safety and ability to get around. Stay on top of your vehicle’s upkeep by keeping the following in mind:

    • Perform Routine Maintenance — Oil changes, tire checks, and compliance with manufacturer-recommended service intervals — these are your first line of defense in keeping your vehicle reliable.
    • Find A Mechanic You Trust — Ask the NMEDA for recommendations, specifically for mechanics who are certified and experienced with your vehicle type and adaptations. They understand the nuances better and ensure that repairs are done correctly. Doing so gives you peace of mind when it comes to your modifications functioning continuously, reliably, and safely.
    • Prioritize Adaptations During Maintenance — Do not neglect the equipment that empowers your ability to drive a car. Regular checks and maintenance of your adaptive systems, like wheelchair ramps or specialized controls, are non-negotiable.
    Maintenance Checklist For Modified Vehicles

    Different needs require different approaches. The NMEDA developed the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Safety & Maintenance Checklist so that modified equipment providers, mechanics, and maintenance can better cater to the needs of drivers with limited mobility.

    Here’s a rundown of the checklist from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association:

    • Overall Operation — Start with the basics — weird noises, clunking, or grinding are warning signs.
    • Ramp Care — Clean and lube hinges, check motor bolts, pivot pins, and drive arms per your equipment instructions.
    • Door Details — Verify smooth operation, proper alignment, hinges, and wiring.
    • Battery Health — Do regular testing, especially in extreme climates that can discharge your car’s battery.
    • Kneel Systems — Check operation and lubricate components if applicable.
    • Conversions — These include switches, remotes, and other accessibility equipment for your vehicle.
    • Tires — Always maintain the correct pressure for your tires. Punctured tires can lead to tire blowouts, endangering your life because of a possible crash.
    • Wirings — Look for damages and ensure proper routing.
    • Lights — Verify all interior and exterior lights to see if they function properly. Make sure your headlights provide optimal visibility, especially if you have visual impairments.
    • Emergency Preparedness — Keep a web cutter for straps and have a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle.
    • Restraint Safety — Always follow manufacturer instructions for wheelchair securement straps.

    Vehicle breakdowns, especially those related to your adaptations, are particularly stressful. Always stay on top of your maintenance and preventative care so that you can also protect your most essential tool for mobility and prevent accidents on the road.

    Technological Advances That Cater To Drivers With Disabilities

    Technology is constantly evolving. For drivers with disabilities, it can be a game-changer. Explore and learn about how recent advancements in technology level the playing field on the road.

    Assistive driving apps are fantastic resources for planning your trips. You can use voice-activated navigation to minimize distractions and locate accessible parking spaces. They can also provide warnings about potential road closures, hazards, and weather conditions that may make driving difficult.

    Of course, never underestimate the power of your smartphone’s accessibility settings. Magnifying text can make planning trips or finding destinations easier if you are visually impaired. Since cell phones can be connected to your car via Bluetooth, voice commands allow you to control functions without taking your eyes off the road. As for modifications, large-button keyboards are available for those with limited dexterity.

    Modern cars often come equipped with features that benefit disabled drivers, such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). These features help you maintain safe distances away from other motorists. Lane departure warnings also provide an extra alert if you start to drift from your lane. Backup cameras and parking sensors are also getting more widely implemented for base-trim cars to allow maneuvering in tight spaces that are more accessible to anyone.

    But remember: technology is a tool, not a substitute for safe driving practices. It’s always important to know your route in advance, use hands-free setups responsibly, and never let apps take your focus away from the road. Take extra caution when using modified car equipment. Slow down and stop as needed before proceeding with the necessary adjustments you’ll make while on your trip.

    What Is Self-Driving Car Technology?

    The future is especially exciting for people with disabilities wanting to catch open roads. Self-driving car technology has the potential to completely revolutionize transportation for those with disabilities, as it opens up a new level of independence.

    Some of the companies developing self-driving car technology include Tesla, Motional, and Waymo. While it definitely looks promising, it would still take a lot of time for these self-driving cars to adhere completely to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and be easily accessible for mass implementation.

    What Are My Parking Rights As A Person With Disability?

    What Are My Parking Rights As A Person With Disability

    Parking can be a major source of stress for people with disabilities. There are only limited slots available, and sometimes, even people without disabilities use them. Disabled parking permits are designed to ease that burden. Knowing the rules is key to using them correctly and confidently.

    In California, you generally qualify for a disabled parking placard or plate if you have a condition that significantly limits your mobility, which includes:

    • Impaired ability to walk 200 feet without stopping
    • Lung disease, circulatory conditions, or use of portable oxygen
    • Limited use of one or both lower limbs
    • Vision impairments meet specific criteria

    To prevent any hassle when you’re in parking lots, here are some practices you should keep in mind:

    • Where You CAN Park — Only park in spaces clearly marked with the International Symbol of Access, essentially the blue wheelchair symbol. These designated spots are in public lots, on-street parking, and some commercial zones with posted signs.
    • Where You CANNOT Park — Parking in red zones, tow-away zones, bus stops, or spaces designated for specific purposes is strictly prohibited, even when you have a disabled parking permit.

    It’s also best to remember these best practices when using metered or time-limited parking spaces:

    • Parking Meters — Your placard usually exempts you from paying at meters, but local rules can vary. Look for posted instructions or inquire about your local municipality for clarity.
    • Time Limits — Always follow the posted time limits, even with a placard. Some spaces may offer unlimited parking for people with disabilities, but it’s always best to double-check the signs.
    Improper Parking Impacts People With Disabilities

    Unfortunately, some drivers try to take advantage of disabled parking spots. Knowing the rules can help you confidently assert your rights if questioned. Our team sees firsthand the frustration that improper parking can cause, which is why we fight for our clients who have been injured in parking lot accidents.

    Parking lots may seem harmless, but they are full of potential hazards for drivers with disabilities and pedestrians. Even something as simple as a parking lot collision can be dangerous. When a car traveling at around ten (10) mph strikes you in a parking lot, you can already suffer whiplash injuries.

    Sadly, we see people misusing disabled parking spots out of convenience or ignorance of the law. This misuse of designated spaces isn’t just illegal and unfair. It can have real consequences if someone needing the space can’t find one, such as health risks and mobility issues.

    How To Get A Disabled Parking Permit

    If you wish to obtain a disabled parking permit, here are a few steps you need to take:

    • Get An Application Form — You can usually find this at your local DMV office or on their website. Look for a form titled “Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plate” or something similar. For drivers with disabilities in California, you can order your places online through the California DMV’s website.
    • Complete The Form — Fill out your personal information. Afterward, your healthcare provider, likely a physician or nurse practitioner, will complete a section certifying your disability and how it affects your mobility.
    • Submit The Application — You can do this online through the DMV’s Disabled Person Parking Placard Application, in person at your local DMV, or by mail. Be sure to include any required fees. If you ever lose or damage your placard, you may apply for a new one through their Disabled Person Parking Placard Replacement page.
    • Understand Permit Types — Many people apply for a permanent permit. Some states, however, also offer temporary permits for short-term disabilities and limitations due to injuries or surgeries. Since fees may vary according to your situation, be sure to check in with your local DMV for details.

    Having a disability doesn’t mean you have to give up your freedom to drive. By following the necessary steps we’ve mentioned, you can achieve the accommodations you need, including a parking permit. This way, you can enjoy and make the most of your independence from being behind the wheel.

    What Are Other Good Transportation Options For People With Disabilities?Finding reliable transportation is challenging for individuals with disabilities who go to work and run errands. While driving a personal vehicle, carpooling, or using public transit are common solutions, there are many other options worth considering:

    • Paratransit

      If your disability makes using traditional buses or trains difficult, paratransit is a good option. This door-to-door service is available in many areas across the United States. Its vehicles are wheelchair-accessible and provide round-trip commuting at costs similar to public transit. To be eligible, you must undergo an application process with a healthcare provider vouching for you.

    • Rideshare Services

      App-based services like Uber and Lyft offer some advantages over taxis. Fares could be lower, tipping is optional, and cars are typically well-maintained. Uber also offers specialized features for riders with disabilities, including wheelchair-accessible vehicles, driver assistance, and accommodations for service animals or those with hearing or vision impairments.

    • Mobility Managers

      You can think of them as your travel agents who can connect you to transit agencies, and they can research and recommend commuting options tailored to your needs. They might arrange fees, coordinate services, or help you find resources independently. For state-specific programs, you may check out the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM).

    • Transportation Voucher Programs

      These are common in rural areas and are usually partnered with local transit providers like taxis, van companies, or even volunteer drivers. They offer discounted rides to residents with disabilities using a voucher system.

    • Eldercare Locator

      Despite the name, this resource isn’t just for seniors. Adults living with disabilities who are aged 21–64 and receiving Medicare may also get its assistance. It offers referrals to local services, which might include paratransit, volunteer transportation, voucher programs, and even vehicle conversions. You may call the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL’s) Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.

    Common Vehicle Accidents That Occur In The United States

    Car accidents can happen in countless ways, at different levels of severity. Drivers with disabilities are especially vulnerable to severe injuries in a collision.

    According to the NHTSA, an estimated 42,795 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2022. Compared to 2021’s report, which stated 42,939 fatalities, this represented a 0.3% decrease as a positive effect of the DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy.

    Common car accident types include the following:


    The common causes of car accidents are speeding and drunk driving:

    • Speeding – According to the National Safety Council (NSC), accidents due to speeding resulted in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2021. This accounted for an average of 33 people killed per day.
    • Driving Under The Influence (DUI) — As for drunk driving and DUI cases, these increased to 37 preventable deaths per day, according to the NHTSA. In 2021, around 13,384 fatal car accidents due to DUI were witnessed.

    Regardless of how car accidents happen, drivers have a duty of care to others on the road. Negligence that leads to preventable injuries and even wrongful death is where our expert personal injury lawyers step in. If you’ve been injured in any type of vehicle accident, call us immediately at (888) 488-1391 or fill out our contact form for a free case evaluation.

    Am I Liable If I Get Into A Car Accident?

    It’s a common misconception that if you’re disabled, you’ll automatically be considered at fault in an accident. That’s simply not true. Like any accident, determining liability always depends on who acted negligently. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Your Disability Doesn’t Equal Fault — Having a disability doesn’t mean you’re a bad driver or inherently more likely to cause an accident.
    • Focus On Actions — Investigators will look at the specific actions of everyone involved — did anyone break traffic laws, drive recklessly, or make unsafe choices or maneuvers?
    • Documentation Is Important — Thorough medical records, details about your vehicle adaptations, and witness statements can all be essential in proving that your disability didn’t contribute to the accident.

    Sometimes, we encounter biases in accident investigations, which is why it’s so crucial to have a strong advocate on your side. Arash Khorsandi, Esq., and his team of knowledgeable personal injury attorneys are capable of combating these prejudices against people with disabilities. We always want to make sure that you are treated fairly, focusing on the true cause of the accident.

    People With Disabilities Have The Right To Be Compensated For Their Injuries In An Accident

    When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, it’s important that you receive fair compensation. As a driver with disabilities, you may have unique needs and expenses that need to be considered in your personal injury case. This could include medical expenses related to the accident, the cost of repairing or replacing damaged vehicle adaptations, or even compensation for needing an entirely new vehicle.

    Additionally, you can seek reimbursement for lost wages due to your injuries and any impact they have on your ability to work. In cases where your injuries require alterations to your vehicle for better accessibility, those expenses should also be covered.

    Finally, do not overlook your right to be compensated fairly for your pain and suffering. This includes acknowledging the physical pain, emotional hardships, and overall impact on your quality of life.

    Insurance companies often try to minimize what they pay out after an accident. This is why having a highly experienced personal injury attorney who understands the specific needs of drivers with disabilities is crucial for ensuring you receive the maximum compensation you need. Here at Arash Law, we value our clients’ needs both now and for their continued care in the future. We never want you to settle for an offer that is less than what you truly deserve.

    Get A Free Consultation At Arash Law Today

    Driving should be a liberating experience that enables you to connect with opportunities. It shouldn’t feel like an obstacle course just because of your disability. Our knowledge and resources aim to equip all people with disabilities with the confidence to drive confidently and safely on the streets.

    Keep in mind, however, that even the most cautious drivers can find themselves in an accident through no fault of their own. Accidents are unexpected events. If this happens to you, Arash Law and our team of esteemed car accident attorneys are prepared to protect your rights by building a strong personal injury case for you.

    Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you’ve been injured in an accident. Call us today at (888) 488-1391 or fill out our “Do I Have A Case?” form for a free case consultation so we can answer your questions and empower you to make informed decisions about your case. Embrace the driving journey, but never hesitate to ask for help when needed. We are ready to support you every mile you drive.

    You May Be Entitled to Compensation
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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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