We use technology for myriad reasons, from education to entertainment. But if you boiled it all down, we created technology for one purpose: to solve problems. That’s certainly true in the automotive world, and even truer in the world of accessible automobiles.
Wheelchair-accessible cars solve the transportation problem for countless drivers and passengers with disabilities. But for a piece of technology to truly solve a problem, it needs the right tech for the right situation. That’s why understanding the difference between rear-entry and side-entry vehicles is so essential.
Parking Made Simple
Handicap parking spaces generally have the areas next to them reserved. This allows room for wheelchair users to exit the vehicle. But these spaces may not always be available. That’s when rear-entry cars become useful. Because the car opens through the rear, you don’t necessarily need those side spots to extend a ramp fully.
Rear-entry vehicles are designed to have the wheelchair at the center of the car’s large back area. With nothing to the right or left, wheelchair users typically have the most leg and arm room with this design. If you’re using a particularly large wheelchair or scooter, this allows for a safer, more comfortable ride.
A typical van features two rows of seats. A rear-entry van replaces some of those seats with the wheelchair, and you don’t have as many options to take seats out or add them. Additionally, the wheelchair can’t move beyond the back seat, making it impossible for the user to ride in the passenger’s side or driver’s seat.
Because the entry is through the back of the car, rear-entry vehicles offer limited trunk space when the wheelchair user is in the car. This can make things difficult when you must pack for large trips or when you go on shopping excursions.
More Seating Options
Side-entry vehicles allow for the most seating options without sacrificing the seats available in your accessible passenger van. This is ideal in scenarios in which many people have to travel at once, including instances where multiple passengers use wheelchairs. Side-entry vehicles are also the only option that allows the wheelchair user to reach the front of the car, making them essential for drivers who use wheelchairs.
One other difference between rear-entry and side-entry vehicles is the floor height. Side-entry vehicles tend to have a lower floor, giving them more vertical space. Since passengers in wheelchairs tend to be seated higher than passengers in car seats, this can offer comfort and safety if the car goes over bumps.
As mentioned earlier, the empty spaces next to handicap spots aren’t always clear. The driver in the adjacent spot may have parked too close. In these cases, a side-entry van may prove challenging to exit. They also make entry impossible when the van is in a garage.