Can disabled drivers go off-road? They most certainly can! Off-road driving is one of the most fun ways to experience the great American outdoors. It’s especially popular in 2020, as more Americans are choosing to explore local nature spots due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
There is so much scenic beauty in every area of the United States, and going off-road driving is the perfect way to encounter Mother Nature up close and personal. So can disabled drivers go off-road?
Driving With A Disability
Having a disability need never be a reason not to travel. Modern vehicle adaptations have made it possible for people with a wide range of disabilities and mobility issues to get around safely and easily.
Disabled people can drive their own vehicle or ride along with friends, family, or carers. Every jurisdiction in the country has a well-run, efficient disabled parking program.
Most disabled people want the freedom and independence of driving their own vehicle. Having your own vehicle that you can use whenever you wish, to go wherever you want, really expands your horizons.
Driving your own vehicle opens a world of possibilities. And with so many amazing vehicle modifications and adaptations now available, most disabled people can drive their own vehicle.
How Do Disabled Drivers Adapt To Their Vehicles?
Vehicles can now be adapted in myriad ingenious ways to make them suitable for disabled drivers. Some of the most common vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers are:
- Adaptive electronic controls
- Reduced effort braking systems
- Steering wheel and pedal extensions
- Wheelchair lifts and ramps
- Transfer seats
- Left-foot accelerators
- Heightened roofs and lowered floors
Are Disabled Drivers Allowed Off-Road?
Disabled drivers are absolutely allowed to go off-road. There are some incredible off-road vehicles designed and made especially for disabled people.
What Is An Off-Road Vehicle?
An off-road vehicle is a motor-driven vehicle that is made to travel cross-country on uneven, unpaved ground such as fields, nature trails, forest paths, beaches, frozen lakes, mountains and hills, deserts, prairies, snow and ice, and scrublands.
The most common types of off-road vehicles are:
- 4-wheel drive jeeps and trucks
- ATVs (all-terrain vehicles)
- UTVs (utility task vehicles)
- Scrambler bikes
- Off-road scooters
- Amphibious machines
- Ground-effect air-cushion vehicles such as hovercrafts
Off-Road Vehicle License And Certification Requirements
Operating most types of off-road vehicle requires a full driving license. However, states differ when it comes to their laws about what certification is needed to drive certain smaller off-road vehicles, such as ATVs (also known as quads). Most states allow people who do not have a driving license to drive ATVs if they have an ATV Safety Certificate.
Several states have an ORV (off-road vehicle) License that must be obtained if you want to drive on eligible county roads, frozen surfaces of public waters, state forests, and/or eligible national forest roads. These can usually be obtained from the relevant state’s Department of Natural Resources.
Off-Road Vehicles For People With A Disability
Most types of off-road vehicle can be modified with adaptive features that allow them to be driven by people with disabilities. There are also powerful off-road vehicles on the market that are built especially for people with disabilities and mobility issues.
One of the most popular of this type of off-road vehicle for people with disabilities is the Terrain Hopper. The Terrain Hopper is a power-driven mobility device that reaches a top speed of 12 mph, so it is not an off-road vehicle designed for fast, dare-devil driving.
However, its ability to traverse off-road terrains such as mountains, hills, rocky ground, deserts, and beaches is incredible. No driving license is required to drive a Terrain Hopper, and it is an excellent option for people with disabilities who want to travel off-road.
Disabled Parking Permits
As a disabled driver, you are entitled to get a disabled parking permit. Disabled parking permits are very helpful if you are going off-road driving at a national park, campsite, beach, or other type of amenity. All national parks and public beaches, and most campsites and other areas of natural beauty have disabled parking facilities that are available for people who hold a disabled parking permit.
Disabled parking permits are available from each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. They come in a variety of types, depending on the type and duration of disability that the applicant has. The main types of disabled parking permit are:
- Temporary permit – for people with a temporary disability
- Permanent permit or license plate – for people with a permanent disability
- Disabled Veterans license plate – for people whose disability is at least partly military service-related
- Organizational permit or license plate – for organizations that transport disabled people
How To Get A Disabled Parking Permit
The easiest way to get a disabled parking permit that you can use when off-road driving is to go to Dr. Handicap and have an online consultation with a local licensed physician. When the physician has examined you and verified your disability, they will provide you with a disabled parking permit letter of recommendation.