Allied Vehicles has been working at an international level to further standards in the wheelchair accessible vehicle industry.
Every business has legislation to deal with – the car industry especially so. It’s reasonable, after all, to expect at least a minimum level of safety when we get into a car! Over the years, however, that legislation evolves and now includes both UK laws and regulations made in Brussels or Geneva.
These requirements are the subject of tough negotiations between the car manufacturers and the regulators. The main car manufacturers have their own trade associations which carry out these negotiations on their behalf but what about niche and specialist vehicle manufacturers?
Few people in mainstream industry understand the issues peculiar to a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) manufacturer. For a start, like any converted vehicle, we have no control over the design of the base vehicle. Then what do we do about the safety of the person in the wheelchair? When you think that there are over 700 different designs of wheelchair out there and you’ve no idea which one is going to be in your car that becomes quite a tall order!
Helpfully, the WAV industry across Europe has formed its own trade association, the Organisation Europeene de Constructeurs des Vehicules Accessibles (OECVA), which now has a seat at the same table in Brussels as the major manufacturers. Ian Hopley, from our own engineering department, is the technical lead for OECVA.
“We have to get that balance between safety, practicality, usability and affordability just right.”
Ian comments: “We have to get that balance between safety, practicality, usability and affordability just right.
Over the last few years, Ian and his colleagues have secured some significant progress in recognition of WAV-specific safety considerations at the European level.
Ian explains: “Until recently there were no technical European requirements specifically for the wheelchair user’s safety so we proposed our own, based on standards to which the UK WAV industry and Motability are already working.
“We were pleasantly surprised at how positively the regulators from other EU Member States responded to the proposals, which were adopted almost without change. Not only does this improve levels of safety for wheelchair users all over the EU, it also levels the playing field for exporters.”