When I first heard about it, I couldn’t and still can’t believe that sled testing isn’t already a requirement for all converted vehicles.
A high-profile disabled actress and disability campaigner has put her name to a campaign to improve the safety of wheelchair users on the road.
Julie Fernandez disabled star of The Office was at Constables Mobility’s stand at The Mobility Roadshow to launch the sled-testing e-petition being run by Disabled Motoring UK.
Disability Motoring UK’s campaign, which is supported by Constables Mobility and a number of other organisations, highlights the need for all converted vehicles to be sled tested and wants a change in legislation that will improve the safety of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs).
It urges buyers of converted cars to demand sled-testing certificates – the only way to check a vehicle is as safe as possible. The campaign will also seek to change legislation so only ‘sled tested’ vehicles can be sold.
Julie Fernandez, who starred alongside Ricky Gervais in BBC TV series The Office, said: “I’m proud to be getting behind this campaign. When I first heard about it, I couldn’t and still can’t believe that sled testing isn’t already a requirement for all converted vehicles. I’m really hoping that we raise awareness of the issue and that the e-petition receives enough signatures for the campaign to be discussed by the government.”
Helen Dolphin, Director of Policy and Campaigns, for Disabled Motoring UK said: “We are really pleased to have Julie on board with our campaign.”
The campaign is also being supported by ex-Eastenders’ actor David Proud, Constables Mobility, Lateral, Concept V1, Bierman, Ability Needs, Disability Magazine, Ask Jules and Sarah Ismail.
Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) campaigns on behalf of all disabled motorists, passengers and Blue Badge holders. The charity represents their interests at both local and national levels, and engages with government and industry to ensure that the voice of disabled people is heard.
DMUK is the only UK charity that campaigns on behalf of disabled people in this way. Without DMUK there would be no Blue Badge scheme, no Motability cars, and no mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to help disabled people defray some of the extra travel and transport costs that they incur.
Constables Mobility is one of the UK's leading reputable manufacturers and suppliers of rear access Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. Renowned for their quality British engineering and innovation, Constables builds wheelchair accessible vehicles to the highest standards, offering the family and wheelchair passenger true freedom, independence, good accessibility and exceptional user comfort.
Pictures of Julie Fernandez launching the campaign are available on request.
For more information or interview requests contact Helen Dolphin Director of Policy and Campaigns Disabled Motoring UK firstname.lastname@example.org
01508 489449 or e-mail or Suzi Christie at Blueberry PR (for Constables Mobility) on 01435 830031 or e-mail email@example.com
You can sign the e-petition by visiting epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34003
Learn more about the campaign at www.sledtesting.co.uk
What is sled testing?
A sled test is similar to the crash testing that many of us have seen on TV a dummy is strapped into a wheelchair in the body of the car, which is then put through head-on collisions to check that both the belts and their fixings are strong enough to withstand a real-life accident and keep the wheelchair passenger secure.
Sled testing is the only means of proving that the cell (i.e. the conversion anchorage points together with the belts and tie-downs) is safe.
The industry has witnessed a 50 per cent failure rate with the wheelchair and occupant sled test, even when the conversion has previously been pull-tested and the belts and tie-downs have been tested separately by the belt manufacturer. It is when the constituent parts are put together as a complete system that they fail.
Why is testing important?
• Converting a WAV involves major changes so the original tests may no longer apply
• In a WAV, the wheelchair is the seat but it wasn’t there when the original car was tested
• Testing is needed to check both the fixings and the belts work properly in the event of a crash
• Sled testing is the only test that actively checks whether the WAV is able to keep the wheelchair passenger secure in a real-life accident.
How do people make sure the vehicle they are buying is safe for the driver and wheelchair user?
Converting a car to make it wheelchair accessible is a complex process involving significant structural changes to the vehicle such as lowering the floor. If this is not done properly, and by experts, the car may be unsafe.
The simple way to check whether a new car meets these standards is to ask to see its certification. Sled tested WAVs will have an ECWVTA.M1 certificate. But do check that the certificate is for the conversion, not the original car.
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