Anthony Dixon

Don’t Risk It : Get Trained Before Driving Your Dodge Wheelchair Van and Using Handicap Equipment

Written by Anthony Dixon. Filed in Dodge Adapting & Conversion Guide

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Owning a Dodge wheelchair van is the first step. Learning how to use it properly and safely is the necessary second step in your new mobility journey. You do not want to risk your safety, the safety of others or your new vehicle by hitting the roadways without adequate instruction and training.

What kind of training do you need?

You need training on both the operation of the van and on its non-driving specialty equipment.

That means you need to be capable of driving the vehicle safely and comfortably once you are behind the driver’s seat, but that you also need to have a strong understanding of the tools and equipment that will allow you to get there.

Driving Aids on Dodge Wheelchair Van

Driving Aids on Dodge Wheelchair Van

You need to be fully aware of how to operate your lift or ramp, the van doors, any transfer seats, and any tie-downs or EZ Lock equipment within the vehicle. You need to be sure that you are capable of entering and exiting the vehicle without incident and that you can make the necessary moves to put you in a position to drive the vehicle.

EZ lock is vital for wheelchair securement

EZ lock is vital for wheelchair securement

In most cases, the training will be provided by the equipment dealer and/or your driving evaluator.

After you have mastered that part of the process, it is time to concern yourself with the actual driving of your Dodge wheelchair van. You want to become an expert in operating your customized Caravan or Sprinter and that will necessitate some professional assistance.

Again, your equipment dealer may be able to provide some instruction and your evaluator may also be likely source of basic off-road instruction. However, at some point you will want to take that Dodge out on the road. That is when you will want to call upon a qualified driving instructor to come along with you as you learn the ins and outs of driving your van. You can find a qualified instructor by asking your DMV or your local vocational rehabilitation offices. Your evaluator or equipment dealer may have a referral for you, as well.

You may want to bring someone else with you as you train on your new vehicle. You do not want to be the only person capable of operating your vehicle. It is a good idea to have at least one family member or close friend who can operate your van in case you are ever unable to do so.

How much training do you need?

There are two answers to that question. Clearly, you will definitely need enough training to pass all required tests for licensure and to meet any of your jurisdiction’s legal standards for the operation of your wheelchair van.

However, that really only addresses how much training you need to meet minimal legal standards, not how much you will need to be a sufficiently skilled and comfortable driver. The only person who can really decide if you are ready to hit the road is you.

You need to feel comfortable behind the wheel and certain that you can handle the kind of driving and traffic situations you are like to encounter while driving your Dodge wheelchair van.

Your Caravan or full-sized van is not just a means of conveyance, after all. It is also a fast-moving, metal machine that is capable of doing a great deal of damage to its passengers and others if mishandled. Thus, it is critical that you know you can handle the vehicle properly.

Training is not an optional element of wheelchair van ownership. It has required on a variety of levels. It is a legal, practical and ethical necessity. Seek out qualified instruction and train on your van until you are prepared to drive with skill and confidence.

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About Anthony Dixon

Anthony Dixon

Anthony is a true disability vehicle enthusiast when he is not working tirelessly in a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, TX where he provides advice and training for the many concerned parents and caregivers. Anthony is the first step in finding the right rehabilitation advice for you or your loved one.

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