Disabled Drivers and Climate Change

Disabled parking

In the last few days the government of Ireland announced its goals in tackling Climate Change. They ranged from the use of plastics to home insulation, all to reduce the damage we are doing to the environment. One area of interest to me is transport, especially for those of us who require adaptations compared with the average person.

Over the last 5 years, my mobility has steadily worsened. With my right leg losing strength, and more continuous pain. I am fortunate to have hand controls in my car which allows me to drive without the use of my feet, and the car is automatic too. However, it is a saloon car, and it is too low now for me to exit from. It involves huge effort, and I can foresee a day when I won’t be able to get out of the car, unaided. 

A suitable car

With this in mind, I have been looking to see what cars are suitable for someone who has Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I have a list of essential features. They are:

  1. The height of the seat from the road must be close to my hip height. This is 90 cm or 3 feet.
  2. The boot (trunk) must have enough space for a mobility scooter and hoist.
  3. It must be possible to put a basic wheelchair in the back seat from the driver’s seat. Electronic seats with multiple driver settings can aid this.
  4. Fuel efficient – as I am on a basic income I cannot afford to have a gas guzzler. 
  5. It should have a long life with me, so must be reliable.
  6. Good acceleration – as I live in a rural area, with many tourists, I need to pass other cars on the occasions when it is possible.
  7. Automatic.

Based on these criteria I am looking at SUV type vehicles. Thinking about fuel efficiency I am looking at Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) and Electric Cars (EV). If I keep this car for 10 years having a diesel or petrol (gasoline) vehicle will become prohibitive given the governments new initiative. Fuel costs will go through the roof. 

Now I have a problem.

Charging at home will be ok, I think. I am in a rented house and hopefully the landlord could facilitate a domestic charger. The big issue is when I travel. I need to park in the disabled parking bays. This is because of my lack of mobility and also fatigue and lack of stamina. I must park as close to my destination as possible. 

Electric vehicle charging

The charging locations in the towns near me are located in places totally unsuitable for people with disabilities. Many times at a distance from the entrances to the shops, etc. I cannot use them. It won’t work, unless I have a mobility scooter, and I am trying to put off this day for as long as possible. 

In the strategy the government shared on the 17 June 2019, there was no help for disabled drivers. None.

This will lead to us having to purchase vehicles using hydrocarbon based fuel and suffering the increased cost as the government applies further carbon taxes. Having a disability is hard enough, but to be excluded from accessing transport again is cruel. Public transport where I live is not wheelchair accessible. Our government has a minister with specific responsibility for the disabled, and I cannot see his hand on this document. Unfortunate, and wasteful. His role is to look after us. 

A Solution

They have missed an opportunity to spearhead our nation’s goal of improving the environment by utilising the goodwill of the disabled. We can be the vanguard in this initiative. Achieving this by placing car chargers at every disabled driving bay. Our example will inspire confidence.

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