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Adaptive Driving

Introduction

For people with disabilities, getting behind the wheel may call for the use of some adaptive equipment and assistive technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association, www.NHTSA.gov, regulates the manufacture of automotive adaptive equipment and modified vehicles used by persons with disabilities. You can get a copy of the pamphlet Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities ffrom NHTSA online, or by calling 888-327-4236.
On this page, we offer an introduction to Adaptive Driving:
  • An overview of NHTSA’s suggested process for aspiring drivers
  • Financial assistance and special programs to help you get on the road

NHTSA’s Process for Aspiring Drivers

Following the steps below can help you make the best possible choices when buying and modifying a vehicle with adaptive equipment.
  • Find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist to evaluate your needs.
  • Investigate cost-saving opportunities and licensing requirements.
  • Select the right vehicle.
  • Choose a qualified dealer to modify your vehicle.
  • Obtain training on the use of new equipment.
  • Maintain your vehicle.

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists

If you have disabilities and want to start driving, your first step is to find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) who can give you comprehensive evaluation and help determine safe driving potential, needs for equipment, and a prescription for mobility equipment.
A CDRS will run an assessment covering these areas:
  • Medical history
  • Driving history
  • Driver's license status
  • Visual perception
  • Functional ability
  • Reaction time
  • Safe seating
  • Behind-the-wheel evaluation using adaptive equipment
A CDRS will provide the required training that you may need to effectively and safely drive a modified vehicle. Then, the specialist will put the wheels in motion to get you on the road legally. Ask your CDRS to connect you with proper vendors to install conversions, such as lowered-floors with a ramp, reduced-effort steering, hand controls, steering devices and left gas pedals.
To find a CDRS in your area, go to The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists or call 866-672-9466 toll-free.

Financial Assistance for Adapting Vehicles

Financial help may be available to adapt vehicles for drivers with disabilities. Some possible sources of funding are:
  • Private health plans or worker's compensation may cover adaptive devices and vehicle modification. Contact your health plan to see if this is an eligible benefit.
  • Many non-profit organizations have grants or low-cost loan programs that help pay for modifications. Talk to your State Independent Living Center (National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)) or Family-to-Family Health Information Center (National Center for Family - Professional Partnerships (F2F HICs)) to find resources in your state.
  • Some states waive sales tax for adaptive devices with a doctor’s prescription for their use.
  • You may also qualify for savings on your federal income tax return. Check with a tax expert to see if the cost of your adaptive devices will count towards a health care deduction.
  • Many automotive manufacturers offer rebates to customers who buy mobility equipment. Each manufacturer has their own program rules, which can be found on their websites listed below.

Resources

Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

FCA Driveability Program
Program will provide cash reimbursement to assist in covering the cost of installing adaptive driver or passenger equipment on a vehicle. Conversions to Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, or Fiat vehicles may be reimbursed up to $1,000.

Ford Mobility Motoring Program
Program offers financial assistance of up to $1,200 for the installation of adaptive equipment, and up to $200 on alerting devices for hearing impairments, lumbar seats, and running boards on new Ford Motor Company vehicle purchases or leases.

GM Mobility Reimbursement Program
A customer may be reimbursed up to $1,000 of the cost of any eligible aftermarket adaptive equipment when it is installed (or reinstalled) on any eligible purchased or leased new vehicle manufactured by GM, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, HUMMER, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn divisions.

Toyota Mobility Program
Program provides cash assistance of up to $1,000 towards the cost of adaptive equipment, comprehensive mobility resource information, and flexible, extended-term financing for up to 84 months for the vehicle and the adaptive equipment.

Volkswagen Mobility Assistance Program
Will refund up to $1,000 on the purchase or lease of a new Volkswagen vehicle, if vehicle access or ramp equipment is installed.

Honda Customer Mobility Assistance Program
Will provide a reimbursement of up to $1,000 to each eligible, original retail customer for expenses incurred to purchase and install qualifying adaptive equipment on any eligible purchased or leased Honda vehicle.

Hyundai Mobility Assistance Program
Maximum Mobility reimbursement is up to $1,000 of the total equipment and labor costs.

Subaru Mobile-It-Ease Program
Provides reimbursement of up to $500 on new Subaru vehicles from authorized Subaru dealers in the United States to help qualifying owners get necessary vehicle modification due to medically recognized physical disabilities.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: August 2014; last update/revision: January 2019
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Tina Persels
Reviewer: Gina Pola-Money