Adaptive Vehicle Guide Information

Reprinted with permission from the American Automobile Association, AAA World Magazine, May/June issue, 2000.

brochure cover

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published its first consumer brochure to help persons with disabilities select and purchase a car with adaptive equipment or modify an existing vehicle.

Adapting Motor Vehicles for Disabled People provides a step-by-step process to help consumers in the market for adaptive equipment evaluate their needs, select the right vehicle and find a qualified dealer to make the necessary vehicle modifications. General information is also included on cost-saving, licensing requirements and organizations to contact for assistance. A new vehicle modified with adaptive equipment can cost from $20,000-$80,000, so it pays to research any public or private organizations that can offer financial help.

According to NHTSA, there are more than 380,000 vehicles on the road today that have been adapted with new equipment such as mechanical and powered hand controls for gas and brakes, joystick steering, wheelchair lifts and low-effort braking systems. While the brochure focuses on drivers of modified vehicles, it also includes suggestions for drivers who transport passengers with disabilities.

The brochure is available on NHTSA's Web site at And as a PDF file. (629 K .pdf) Or call the Department of Transportation Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

Related Links

  • Adaptive Automotive Equipment (.pdf). [Not currently available—being updated for sale.] The United Spinal Association offers a free publication about adapting automobiles for disabled drivers. Significant improvements have been made in the technology of adaptive automotive equipment, giving individuals with spinal cord injuries or disorders (SCI/D) more options than ever for getting back behind the wheel of a car. Take a look at how adaptive controls can make a big difference in the quality of someone's life.
  • NHTSA's Automotive Safety Issues for Persons with Disabilities
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The Web Diva for the Accessible Techcomm website since 2012. Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication. STC member since June 1979. A founder and former webmaster for the STC Special Needs Committee, which became the STC AccessAbility SIG (2001-2011).