Three benefits of electric vehicles for disabled drivers
Being able to drive is an important part of keeping your independence as a disabled adult. Whilst more and more companies are offering delivery services, being able to drive potentially means that you can choose your own groceries, meet your friends and go on solo trips out.
Especially for those who live in more rural areas, driving can be the difference between connection and isolation. Not only does this mean a more enriched life, but in turn it helps with mental health struggles, as feeling lonely can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
But with traditional vehicles sometimes making the driving experience less than pleasurable for those with a disability, is there a way to make driving more accessible? Can electric vehicles (EVs) help overcome some of those problems?
We take a look at three reasons why electric cars may be better for disabled drivers.
In traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, fuelling up can be an issue, both for those with mobility needs and those who struggle with muscular or limb problems. Firstly, the driver needs to pull in next to the pump. They then need to assemble their wheelchair and get into it before moving around the vehicle.
Not only will there potentially be another car pulled up right next to theirs, but normally there is no room for a wheelchair or any other assistive devices to get between the car and the nozzle. Then, the nozzle can be hard to grip for enough time to fill a tank. Especially when combined with possibly needing to go into the kiosk to pay, this can make fuelling up an unpleasant and difficult experience. Of course, the driver may be able to attract the attention of a fuel station staff member, but this can be difficult, time consuming and often there are not enough staff available to help.
EVs offer an easier option. Whilst finding a charging station on the road can be tricky, for short journeys, drivers can charge at home, meaning that they can put the charging point in a place that is convenient for their needs. An electric charger does not require the user to manually grip, either – because they push in like a plug, they can be a lot easier for people with disabilities to use.
2. Smooth driving experience
EVs are often a smoother driving experience than a petrol or diesel car. A traditional engine constantly vibrates and changes due to gear changing and acceleration, meaning that the driver can feel this movement, as well as hearing the engine. In contrast, an EV doesn’t need to do this, which can be beneficial for those who have severe joint pain or any other conditions that can be inflamed by excessive movement.
Another benefit of the electric engine is that it is significantly quieter than a traditional engine. They’re not quite silent, but you’d have to listen out for them. Not only can this provide a calmer driving experience, but it can be really beneficial for anyone who is sensitive to noise, or struggles to hear road noise like blue light vehicles over their engine.
3. Lower cost
Whilst it’s true that EVs often have a higher initial purchase cost than a traditional vehicle, they can be cheaper to run. Electric cars have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel vehicles, meaning that they require less maintenance. Whilst there are still several parts that a driver needs to maintain, like wipers, brakes and tyres, it’s less maintenance overall, which keeps costs down and reduces the chances of breaking down due to engine trouble.
Not only will breaking down be inconvenient, but those with disabilities might struggle to be able to get help if they’re in a remote location. Luckily, electric vehicles tend to be relatively new and so it’s easy for garages to get parts to fit them. Plenty of manufacturers also offer regular battery health checks that are included with a service, meaning that drivers don’t need to take their car anywhere special and pay a premium price to get it serviced.
They are also currently exempt from road tax, which can be helpful for those drivers who want to cut costs but don’t meet the government threshold for vehicle tax exemption.