Getting in and out of a vehicle

It’s often said that modern cars are all the same. This is not true, and if you have a disability or are just getting less strong or flexible as you get older quite small differences in the shape and size of such things as doors or seats can make a big difference to how easy it is to get in and out of a particular car.

Can't bend your legs

Most people with stiff legs sit on the car seat and then lift both of their legs in over the sill. Many people lift each leg over by hand, sometimes with help from the end of a walking stick or a purpose designed leg lifter.

Look for

  • A wide door
  • A seat that will slide far enough back to give room for your legs. With some cars you may have to slide the seat back when you get in and then slide it forwards again once you are in.
  • Avoid large protruding door pockets that get in the way
  • If lifting your legs is hard go for a low sill

Have difficulty getting up from a seat

This is very common, particularly as cars have got lower over the years. You may be able to lower yourself down onto a low seat, but getting up again can be a strain.

Look for

  • A seat that is the right height from the ground, but remember that this will be different when you are parked against a kerb
  • A height adjustable seat may help
  • A grab handle above the seat may be useful. Otherwise look for convenient places to hold on to

Transfer from your wheelchair

Many people look for a car seat that is the same height as their wheelchair seat so that they can slide across on the level. Others prefer the car seat to be lower or higher than the wheelchair. Some people slide across without equipment while others use a transfer board.

Look for

  • Your preferred height of seat - remember to allow for kerbs
  • A car with a seat that is close enough to the side of the car, to minimise the gap you have to cross
  • A door that opens far enough to get the wheelchair in the right position
  • A door without pockets that protrude and stop you getting near the car seat

Can't bend your upper body

Look for

  • A car with a high door
  • A door opening that does not slope too steeply
  • A wide door also may help

Use sticks

Some people find it convenient to put sticks between the seat and the side of the car.

Look for

  • Seats that give your room to do this

Click here for a guide to choosing a vehicle

Contact us

Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland,
Ballindine, Claremorris, Co. Mayo

Get directions

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