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Travelling by car

If you’re a wheelchair user or have reduced mobility and are travelling by car, use our guide to ensure you have a comfortable journey.
3 min read
In this article
Getting in and out of the car Loading wheelchairs into a car Things to consider for when you're on the road
Choosing and adapting a car for a loved one

Getting in and out of the car

If you find it difficult to get in and out of a car because of physical problems, there are products you can buy that can help.

  • Car caddies: adjustable straps that attach to the car door and can be held to make it easier to stand up from the car seat. You can also get straps that fit around headrests and work in a similar way.
  • Handybars: fit into the locking mechanism of the car door and provide a grip handle to push down on.
  • Swivel seats and leg lifters: help turn the body in the car seat, so you can sit down or get up more easily if you have problems rotating in the car.
  • Transfer boards: these are positioned between the car seat and a wheelchair. They are another option if you aren’t able to lift yourself out of the car.

If you’re not sure what products are best for you, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist can help you work out the best solutions. 

Loading wheelchairs into a car

Families often get a wheelchair so that their relative can join in with outings and continue to leave the home for shopping trips and social activities without having to walk long distances. If your family is thinking of getting a wheelchair for this purpose, the following check list may help them to ensure that the chair is transportable:

Checklist (ticks)
  • Buy a lightweight chair that can be easily lifted into the boot of the car. Removing the foot plates and any other accessories will also reduce the lifting weight. Lift from your knees and not your back to avoid back injuries.
  • Check the frame of the chair will fit into the boot of the car. On most chairs the back can be folded and the wheelchair footplates can be removed to make it more compact.
  • Having a car with a high sill to the boot will mean that the chair has to be lifted up and over it, so if you decide to replace the car at some stage, consider a vehicle with a low sill or no sill.
  • If there is no sill, heavier chairs and small scooters can be manoeuvred up on a car ramp, although this requires more effort and takes extra time.
  • Finally, for heavy chairs, a wheelchair ‘boot lift’ will enable the chair to be placed in the back of the car without the need for heavy lifting.


Things to consider for when you're on the road

 

It’s important to make sure you’re comfortable while travelling. Think about placing support cushions on the seats or attaching comfort straps to the seat belt. If you have a back condition, there are a number of supports to help you sit as comfortably as possible.

 

Work out the route in advance to make sure there are stops to take regular toilet breaks, if necessary. Portable urinals can be useful for long journeys and are available for both men and women. Disposable urine bags are another option; they convert the waste into a gel and can then be sealed and disposed of in a bin.

Choosing and adapting a car for a loved one

If your friend or family member will be travelling regularly with you, it may be worth adapting your vehicle or even replacing your existing car with one that is more suitable.

 

If your car isn’t suitable for your loved one’s needs and you’re thinking of getting a new one, you could look into vehicles with good accessibility features, including low door sills and wider doors.

 

Additionally, if you’re looking to adapt your car to suit your family member, there are a number of Driving Mobility centres around the country that can provide personalised advice on accessibility.

Further reading

Day trips and going on holiday

Whether you’re planning to take a break abroad or go on a day trip, there are things to consider if you have reduced ...

Choosing a wheelchair

Learn about the differences between manual and electric wheelchairs, and how to customise yours to make it as ...

Choosing a walking stick

We help you decide if a walking stick is right for you, as well as giving guidance on how to choose and use a walking ...

Last updated: 18 Sep 2018