Even with advance notice, sometimes it’s hard to find a rental car that suits your needs. Unfortunately hand controls can only be installed on certain models, and until today that selection was pretty limited. To be fair, that’s not the fault of the car rental agencies, because they have to follow the safety rules issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
And one of those rules prohibits car rental agencies from disabling safety equipment — like airbags — to install hand controls. The problem is that if hand controls are installed without disabling some airbags (the knee bolster type), it could present a safety issue if the airbag was deployed. And since more and more new cars are now equipped with these knee bolster airbags, the selection of rental models that can be outfitted with hand controls has been greatly limited.
Under a new rule recently released by the NHTSA, car rental agencies can now disable knee bolster airbags in order to install hand controls. And this will ultimately increase the selection of models that can be outfitted with hand controls. And wheelchair-users will likely have more choices.
“Everyone deserves equitable access to safe transportation and this rule will remove certain obstacles that have prevented people with disabilities the freedom to travel safety and comfortably,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator.
And the freedom to travel is a very good thing!