Don’t let a disability limit your travel plans. Just because you have a physical restriction doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the freedom of a personal car rental. Many independent car rental companies, especially those located at large airports, can provide adaptive car rentals or wheelchair accessible van rentals that are specially designed for persons with disabilities. The key to securing these special vehicle rentals is preplanning. The sooner you can contact the rental company with your accessibility request, the more likely they’ll be able to accommodate your needs.
How to Rent with a Surrogate Driver
Many independent car rental companies will rent a vehicle to customers with disabilities even if they do not possess a valid drivers license. Provided the renter is personally and financially responsible, the car rental company can arrange a contract that includes a designated or “surrogate” driver. While each company’s procedure is slightly different, the disabled renter is normally required to complete their reservation using a personal credit card. The renter is then required to submit a copy of their chosen surrogate’s drivers license. The surrogate must be at least 25 years of age. Most surrogates are also required to complete an additional driver form when it comes time to pickup the rental. There is rarely an additional cost for this type of rental arrangement.
Special Equipment and Adaptive Car Rentals
Persons with disabilities are able to rent vehicles without the aid of a surrogate driver, provided the rental company offers proper adaptive equipment. Larger independent car rental companies will likely have the largest available inventory of adaptive features, but even smaller companies can accommodate basic requirements. If you’re searching for an adaptive rental option, be sure to ask a car rental representative about the following equipment availability:
- Panoramic Mirrors: these help extend the field of view for the driver.
- Transfer Boards: Commonly found on wheelchair accessible rentals, these enable easy transfer from a wheelchair into and out of the vehicle.
- Swivel Seat: Increased mobility is a must for drivers with disabilities. Swivel seats allow a driver to turn his or her body in the car sweat with very limited effort. Most swivel seats can also be removed from underneath the person for easy transport.
- Spinner Knobs: This useful tool allows the driver to turn the steering wheel of their rental vehicle a full radius using just one hand.
- Hand Controls: Hand controls are the most advanced form of adaptive car rental equipment. These tools enable drivers to accelerate or brake using a hand-controlled device. Hand controls make it easier for drivers with disabilities to handle the vehicle.
- Left Foot Accelerator Extensions: A popular option for amputees, left foot accelerator adaptors make it easier to
Questions to Ask When Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van Rental
After you locate a wheelchair van rental provider using the Car Rental Express comparison search tool, it’s important that you ask a few questions and review any rental policies and procedures. The following are a few important things to keep on your radar:
- Seating: You’ll want to make sure there’s ample seating and storage in your rental. Many companies will remove the bench seating from a wheelchair van rental if you don’t think you’ll need it.
- Roof Height: This is especially important if you have a high profile wheelchair.
- Repairs: What happens if something breaks during your rental period? Does the agency have a 24-hour repairs hotline or emergency towing assistance?
- Lift or Ramp Options: If the wheelchair van rental is list equipped, be sure to ask about the weight-limit.
How to Book an Adaptive Car Rental
Renting an adaptive car rental from a standard agency takes a little extra planning. The safest way to secure your rental is to call (or have your travel agent call) the rental desk to request a specialty rental. Make sure that you contact the actual location where you will be picking up the rental, and not just the generic head office number. Provide the rep with as much detailed information as you can. If you use a wheelchair, you may prefer renting a two-door model (they usually have larger doors).
Reserve an adaptive car rental with a little help from CarRentalExpress.com