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Transportation - Where's My Ride

A big part of gaining independence is transportation, or how you get to the places you need and want to go. Individuals with a disability have many transportation options including obtaining a driver's license, public transportation, and private services. The right option depends on one’s desires and abilities.

Driver's Education/License

Individuals with disabilities who are interested in driving can enroll in driver's education classes (both written and behind the wheel) to obtain a driver's license. A variety of accommodations can be made to educational vehicles depending on the nature of an individual’s disability:
  • Physical Disability – Driver’s education varies from state to state, but youth with a disability who are in high school may be able to register for the classroom portion of driver's education as they would for any other high school course. Contact the school counselor or the school district before registering for the class to determine if an adapted vehicle is needed and available for the student. Additional time may be required for the instructor to teach the student adaptive driving.
  • Cognitive/Learning/Developmental Disability – For a young adult with a disability of this nature, contact a private driving school listed online or in the Yellow Pages.
State driver's license agencies may provide additional information about options for obtaining a driver's license
Local organizations may be able to provide adaptive driving equipment. see all Assistive Technology services providers (104) in our database services providers in our database.
  • Tips for Getting a Driver's License for Teens and Young Adults with Disabilities (PDF Document 360 KB)
    This pamphlet developed by Shriners Hospital for Children, also called On the Road, provides information on where to start when getting a driver's license; getting a driver's license in Utah; the Functional Ability Evaluation Medical Report; driving evaluations; adaptive equipment and specialized drivers training; and resources and websites.
  • Guide to Driving for Arizona (PDF Document 521 KB)
    This guide offers steps and reminders for youth with disabilities who want to apply for a driver's license. This document was written for Arizona, and some of the details are specific to that state, but it is a great general guide for all youth with disabilities seeking a driver's license.
  • A-1 Driving School
    For profit driving school offers instruction using adaptive driving equipment.

Adapted Motor Vehicles

New technology gives many people with disabilities the opportunity to drive or be transported in their own vehicles with adaptive devices.
Some examples include:
  • Wheelchair lifts and ramps
  • Hand controls
  • Modified Seating
  • Steering Aids
A driving rehabilitation specialist can tell you if it is possible to successfully adapt your vehicle. To locate a specialist in your area, go to The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists.
A qualified vehicle modification dealer installs the devices suggested for your car. This dealer is not the same as the dealer that sold you your vehicle. For the Consumer Guide to purchasing wheelchair accessible vehicles and equipment from the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, go to National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA).
For more information on adapting motor vehicles and how to pay for it, go to Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities.

Public Transportation

Transportation services allow individuals with disabilities to live independently within their communities by providing accessible public options. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that new public buses and rail vehicles (such as subway cars and light rail trains) be accessible to people in wheelchairs. Many new fixed route buses have wheelchair lifts or ramps. Buses must also have at least two seating spaces inside for securing wheelchairs. People who are able to use the fixed route bus service should utilize this option whenever possible.
For people who cannot use fixed route bus services, many city transit agencies provide what is known as "paratransit" for eligible travelers. Paratransit services typically use vans or mini-buses equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps. These vehicles usually do not follow fixed schedules, but instead allow you to call and schedule a pick-up wherever you are. Disability alone does not determine paratransit eligibility; the decision is based on the applicant's functional ability to use a fixed route bus. Establishing eligibility requires an application that describes the passenger's disability and explains why she is unable to use regular transit, along with the signature of a health care professional.
See the draft Paratransit Eligibility Handbook (ADA). In some cases, use of the specialized transportation services may limit you from using other public transportation services with funding from Medicaid. Check with your Medicaid eligibility worker to find out if Medicaid will pay for both services. Medicaid may have a contract with a designated service.

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) allows patients who are unable to travel on their own due to medical conditions to travel safely for local trips or long distances. NEMT can be provided by ground or air, depending on the patient's needs. Sometimes, patients who are stable but unable to travel by conventional means are required to use non-emergency medical transportation due to oxygen requirements, mobility issues, or for ease and comfort.
For a directory of NEMT providers in your state, go to Access Travel Center.

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation for Medicaid Beneficiaries

States are required to make NEMT available to Medicaid beneficiaries to assure their access to medically necessary services. Most states cover NEMT to enable Medicaid beneficiaries to obtain covered medical services from local providers and from hospitals and clinics outside their area. Some states have a prior approval process or may limit the number of trips allowed per month. Many states contract with local agencies to coordinate services.
For a summary of your state's Medicaid NEMT eligibility requirements and coverage, go to Medicaid Benefits: Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT). Utah's non-emergency medical transportation for eligible Medicaid members is LogistiCare Utah.

Private Transportation

Many taxi companies provide accessible vehicles. Some taxi companies may require you to schedule rides in advance and may charge additional fees. Call your local taxi companies for more details.
Private companies may also provide accessible transportation services. See all see all Disability Transportation services providers (20) in our database services providers in our database and see all see all Transportation, General services providers (9) in our database services providers in our database.

Air Travel

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel by requiring U.S. airlines and foreign airlines that provide flights to or from the United States to offer accessible facilities, accommodations, and other services to passengers with disabilities.
However, unlike most forms of transportation, many aspects of air travel are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA) is a civil rights law that requires some accessibility for people with disabilities, but not the same level of access that is required on bus and rail services by the ADA. For example, under the ACAA, a person who uses a wheelchair or mobility device is required to transfer to an airplane seat instead of riding in their personal device. Also, while new safety videos shown on airplanes must be open-captioned, captions are not required on video entertainment during the flight.
The ADA and its Accessibility Guidelines do apply to airports and airport services. For a step by step guide to air travel with a disability, go to Flying with a Disability.
Airlines generally provide accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including transporting your wheelchair or providing wheelchair service in the airport. Before you purchase a ticket, call the airlines and ask about their services, rules, and restrictions. When you purchase a ticket, let the airline know what assistance you will need. Some airlines require you to make arrangements within the week before your flight. When you go through security screening at the airport, let the screener know if you will need assistance.
The US Department of Transportation provides information and hosts a Toll Free Hotline for air travelers with disabilities. Hotline Duty Officers provide general information about the rights of air travelers with disabilities. For information about the rights of persons with disabilities in air travel, or for help in resolving disability-related air travel problems, visit the web site at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/hotline.htm, or call the Hotline at: 1-800-778-4838.

Resources

Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Guide to Disability Resources on the Internet
From Disability Resources, a nonprofit organization, thousands of the best disability resources on the Internet, personally selected and annotated by the staff of Disability Resources.

Disability Travel and Recreation Resources
Provides links to sites related to travel information and opportunities for the disabled.

Wheelchair Accessible Hotels
Searchable listing of wheelchair accessible hotels worldwide. Online services only.

LogistiCare Utah
Non-emergency transportation for eligible Medicaid members to assist with transportation request medical appointments.

Utah Transit Authority
UTA bus, light rail (TRAX), and paratransit (Flextrans) information, schedules, and assistance. If you are deaf or hearing impaired and use either a teletypewriter (TTY) or computer equipment with TTY capability to place your telephone calls, dial 711 (Relay Utah) then give the Relay operator the Customer Service # 743-3882. Calls are also accepted using the video relay services, if you have equipment available.

Utah 2-1-1
A free information and referral line for health, human and community services. 2-1-1 provides information and referral on topics such as emergency food pantries, rental assistance, public health clinics, child care resources, support groups, legal aid, and a variety of nonprofit and governmental agencies. Call for quick answers. The online directory provides anytime access to the same information. Confidential and free.

Utah Center for Assistive Technology (UCAT)
Offering information and technical services to help people identify and obtain the technology that will help them become more independent in their lives. Augmentative communication, bicycle, steering wheel, and wheelchair assistance: assessment and cost estimate. Utah Augmentative Alternative Communication and Technology Teams evaluate children for assistive technology needs for school.

Disability and Air Travel Fact Sheet (PDF Document 59 KB)
Information, tips, and resources from the Utah Family Voices Health Information & Support center.

Youth Leadership Toolkit
Guide book and DVD videos for youth/young adults, parents, medical providers, and other professionals with tips from young adults to assist in transitioning to adulthood. Includes transportation, finding adult health care, healthy relationships, employment/volunteering, self-advocacy and independent living. Developed by Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) in collaboration with the Center for Persons with Disabilities and the Becoming Leaders for Tomorrow Project.

Paratransit Eligibility Handbook (ADA)
Section 223 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires that public entities which operate non-commuter fixed route transportation services also provide complementary paratransit service for individuals unable to use the fixed route system. The regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which implement this portion of the law, specify to whom and under what circumstances this service is to be provided. Dated 1993.

Services

Assistive Technology

See all Assistive Technology services providers (104) in our database.

Disability Transportation

See all Disability Transportation services providers (20) in our database.

Transportation, General

See all Transportation, General services providers (9) in our database.

Travel Information & Assistance

See all Travel Information & Assistance services providers (6) in our database.

For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.

Authors

Contributing Authors: Gina Pola-Money - 2/2014
Tina Persels - 2/2014
Alfred Romeo, RN, PhD - 11/2008
Reviewing Author: Shena McAuliffe, MFA - 2/2014
Content Last Updated: 2/2014

Funding/Support

Thank you to the Utah Medical Home Young Adult Advisory Committee for reviewing this section.