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Customers with Disabilities

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Renting Cars for Disabled Drivers

Terms and Conditions The disabled customer can not rely on local travel agents and the reservation offices of the international rental companies. NOT AVAILABLE usually means either: don't know or don't want to deal with it and take risk. Non-standard rental costs them more in communication and time, and they feel they can't charge the client for it. Agents specializing with disabled travelers usually push organized tours, not means for independent travel.

When possible, avoid flights if the distances permit travel by car. Airport procedure and car replacement may take a long time. Warning: verify insurance limits and availability of breakdown services when taking rented cars accross borders. Upgrades are very nice for most drivers, but may be problematic. Upgrading from a spacious Opel or Ford to a sporty BMW or Golf may be fun to drive, but hard with a wheelchair or difficult to get in with long legs.

Locate and Agent

Terms and Conditions The best way to rent a car when travel agents give up is to contact the rental companies directly in the destination city or airport. With the availability of Fax, this is very simple. The numbers may be retrieved with the help of the phone company's operator or from Internet sites. Consider using portable hand-controls system. One of the vendors (Lynx) also helps finding rental cars in various countries. Availability in the USA seems to be the best, including adapted vans, RV's. Country-specific info is provided for Europe, Australia, Southern Africa and North America.

Hand Controls

Terms and Conditions The types of hand-controls offered by the companies are very different and strange in many cases. For the safety of the driver and to avoid unpleasant surprises there should be an international standard. Beware of small (or local) rental companies Some of them take advantage of the special needs of handicapped drivers. They offer old cars with hand-controls at very high prices, limit rental terms and offer bad service. I was almost trapped with such local company in 1994 in a certain European capital. There are some alternatives for transportation abroad, but none is better than car-rental for independent travel.

Beware of hand-controls with manual gearbox! Why do most companies offer popular manual cars and only expensive automatic models? Many persons with right leg injury need left gas pedal. Some rental companies offer it upon request, it is not mentioned in most Web sites and brochures (with the possible exception of Mietauto and Budget of The Netherlands. A good idea may be to get used to hand-controls as the last option.

Comunication Fax

Terms and Conditions Fax is better than phone because of language problems in many places. Fast written communication may save a lot of misunderstandings. In some cases even E-mail may work. Useful info may be retrieved with the help of your embassies in the destination country, ministry of work/welfare there, handicapped organizations etc. I found an adapted car in Spain with the help of our embassy in Madrid.

Parking

Terms and Conditions Parking is a problem in many cities. In developed countries there are reserved spaces for disabled. Some of them are intended for regional badge holders only (e.g. London, UK). In most places I visited an improvised handicapped sign with a note like "disabled tourist" is OK with most (not all) policemen. Please read also the following note from Carol Randall There have been many advances in opening up travel opportunities for persons with disabilities. One such advance benefits the increasing numbers who wish to take driving vacations in Europe.

European Conference of Ministers of Transportation

Terms and Conditions In 1997, the European Conference of Ministers of Transportation (ECMT) passed a resolution that will make it easier for persons with disabilities to operate private vehicles in Europe. When travelers park, they display a document that shows the international symbol for persons with disabilities, as well as the name of the holder of the document. Starting January 1999 a traveler in a ECMT country with a parking document can get the same parking facilities as a citizen of that country, provided the traveler is from an ECMT member country or from an associated member country. Since an increasing number of motorists with disabilities are coming to Europe from the United States and Canada, the resolution recognized parking permits issued to drivers from these countries as well.

Moving Ahead

Terms and Conditions Taken from the spring issue of the Canadian Transportation Agency's publication ''Moving Ahead. When concentrating several days in a single city (especially London, New-York, Rome, Tel-Aviv and Paris) consider giving up the car and rely on taxies and other alternatives. In London taxies and even some buses are adapted for disabled persons. You may find it even cheaper and advantageous, since it forces you to mix more with the local crowd. Parking is very hard in the above-mentioned cities. Some cities offer wheelchair-adapted buses.

Tips for Disabled Drivers

Terms and Conditions Renting a car online is not a scary as it seems. When you travel, you need to rent a car. You want control over where you can go, when you can go. In this guide, we will explore the secrets to getting good rates and good service. Some hints on getting free upgrades and perks. And some hints of things to avoid and hidden charges to be aware of.