Vehicle modifications

Having transport options – public, private – the choice is yours

Vehicle modifications

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can fund modifications to your vehicle

What you need to do to use a private vehicle as a transport option

Where an injury or disability has impacted on your ability to drive a car with foot controls or if you can no longer enter a car as an able-bodied passenger you will need to consider what you need to do to continue using a private vehicle as a transport option.

You will be happy to know that this is entirely possible – from entering a wheelchair accessible vehicle in your wheelchair from the back or side to installing a roof hoist to carry your chair to installing hand controls – there are lots of options and now that the NDIS is here and funding vehicle modifications you will be able to get back on the road in no time at all.

As mentioned, there is funding available under the NDIS to pay for modifications to your vehicle so remember to mention it when you have your planning meeting. To help you prepare, the NDIA have provided guidelines which detail the criteria on which they will fund vehicle modifications.

Organising an off- and on-road assessment by an Occupational Therapist (OT)

If you are thinking of getting your vehicle modified, the first step is to engage the services of an Occupational Therapist who is trained to conduct off- and on-road driving assessments and provide recommendations for vehicle modifications.

Search the Occupational Therapy Australia online directory to find an OT by location and area of expertise or you can call their national office on 03 9415 2900.

Considering insurance for your modified vehicle

Blue Badge Insurance is Australia’s first insurance specialist focused exclusively on providing better insurance solutions for people living with a disability or restricted mobility. The company insures a wide range of disability conversions including hand and foot controls, hoists and ramps from wheelchair modifications.

Vehicle modifications need to be done by an authorised vehicle modifier

Getting your vehicle modified

For general information about what is involved in getting your vehicle modified see
VSI 21 Vehicles modified for people with disabilities. This is NSW based but has useful information about the types of modifications that are available. Wheels Within Wheels is a guide to safe vehicle travel for wheelchair users. It answers all your questions about appropriate vehicles, modifications, lifting devices and wheelchair restraints, and much more.

For information about modifying your vehicle in other states, contact the equivalent of the NSW Roads and Maritime Authority or the vehicle modification companies listed here, and they will be able to advise you on the steps you need to take.

Here is a list of some companies that are authorised to carry out vehicle modifications. To find others you can search the provider lists on the NDIS website or give SCIA a call and we will be happy to assist with your query.

Things to consider if you want to drive a modified vehicle

Driving and licensing

If you hold a drivers licence and sustain a disability you will need to inform your state licensing authority of your disability and provide a satisfactory medical report from your doctor to confirm your current condition and medical fitness to continue to drive. In most cases an off- and on-road driving assessment by a driver trained Occupational Therapist (see above to find) will be required and they will advise on the vehicle modifications required. The driver’s licence will be conditional on the fitting of any special equipment or modifications.

If you don’t hold a drivers licence the process in New South Wales for a person with a disability who does not yet have a licence and wishes to drive is:

  • Complete an application for a learner’s permit answering yes to the fact you have a disability. When you answer yes you may be required to have a medical assessment
  • Do the Driver Knowledge Test. When you pass, your learner’s permit will indicate that your vehicle requires modifications
  • Get an off- and on-road driving assessment by a driver trained Occupational Therapist (OT). The need for any vehicle modification will be assessed by the OT
  • Learn to drive a suitably modified vehicle. If you don’t have access to a modified vehicle in NSW these driving schools have instructors and modified vehicles –
    Macquarie Driving School, St Marys or TT Driver Training, Newcastle
  • Do a Driving Ability Road Test with an RMA assessor in a suitably modified vehicle; and when you pass, your P licence will be endorsed to show what modifications you must use when you drive.

For information about driving and licensing in other states, contact the equivalent of the NSW Roads and Maritime Authority in your state for details.