Menu

Adaptive Driving

For individuals with disabilities, getting behind the wheel may require the use of some adaptive equipment or 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 from NHTSA online, or by calling 888-327-4236. On this page, we offer an introduction to Adaptive Driving, from an overview of NHTSA’s suggested process for aspiring drivers, to financial assistance and special programs to help you get on the road.
Overview of the process set forth by NHTSA:
  • Investigate cost-saving opportunities and licensing requirements
  • Evaluate your needs
  • 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 or a loved one lives with disabilities and wants to start driving, one of your first steps will be to contact a professional Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) who will provide a comprehensive evaluation and help you determine safe driving potential, evaluate your needs for equipment, and provide you with a prescription for mobility equipment.
A Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist will conduct an assessment covering the following 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 appropriate vendors to install assistive devices or conversions, such as lowered-floors with a ramp, reduced-effort steering, hand controls, steering devices and left gas pedals.
To locate 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

  • Private health insurance or worker's compensation may cover adaptive devices and vehicle modification. Contact your insurance provider to see if this is an eligible benefit.
  • Many state non-profit organizations have grants or low-cost loan programs that help pay for modifications. Contact your state Independent Living center or Family-to-Family Health Information Center (F2F HIC) to locate 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 qualified tax consultant to see if the cost of your adaptive devices will help you qualify for a medical deduction.
  • Many automotive manufacturers offer rebate assistance to customers who purchase mobility equipment. Each manufacturer has their own program guidelines, which can be found on their websites listed below.

Resources

Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Chrysler Automobility Program
Program will provide cash reimbursement to assist in covering the cost of installing adaptive driver or passenger equipment on a vehicle. Conversions to minivans may be reimbursed up to $1,000, while all other Chrysler Corporation cars and trucks qualify for a maximum of $750.

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

Author: Tina Persels - 7/2014
Reviewing Author: Gina Pola-Money - 7/2014
Content Last Updated: 3/2016