Applying the Intent of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to Vehicles Modified for the Use of Disabled Persons
Since 1966 the federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has promulgated regulations governing the crash safety of motor vehicles, with particular attention to passenger cars. However, during the next four years, most of the regulations will also apply to light trucks and vans. There are now 53 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These standards primarily regulate the safety of new vehicles. For many disabled persons, especially those confined to wheelchairs, vehicles must be extensively modified to allow them to drive, or to ride as passengers. The objective of this paper is to examine the safety level intended to be afforded to able bodied persons by the crashworthiness FMVSS and to make observations on the special requirements of modified vehicles to afford the same level of safety to disabled persons. We will emphasize the safety needs of those who use vans since vans are the vehicles most extensively modified.