Safety Tip: Know the Weight of Your Vehicle
How much weight can your accessible SUV or van bear when fully loaded? Because SUVs and vans have a higher center of gravity than sedans or minivans, they are more prone to rollover accidents. It is vital to know the weight load before stuffing your vehicle with a wheelchair, luggage, family or friends and vacation equipment (like a canoe or bicycles). Just because there is room for everything doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone.
Braking hard to avoid a possible accident or carrying too much weight in a sharp turn can up the odds of an accident. Plus, an overloaded vehicle can adversely affect braking, steering and your ability to safely control the vehicle.
To find the maximum allowable weight of your vehicle when loaded, look for the label on the driver’s side doorjamb. It tells the allowable weight of the vehicle plus fuel, passengers and cargo. (The information may also be in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the underside of the hood.)
A large SUV can weigh 6,000 lbs. or more before the conversion. A smaller one will be in the 4,000-5,000 lb. range.
To figure out how much weight the vehicle will actually be carrying, get out the calculator. A power wheelchair can weigh about 200 lbs. Add 300 lbs. or more for the wheelchair lift and you’ve already added 500 lbs to the vehicle’s weight capacity. Add 150 lbs. for each passenger and the driver.
With all that weight, make sure the tires can handle the load. Inspect the tread and check the air pressure. All new vehicles from 2012 onward are equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This system monitors the air pressure inside the tires and alerts the driver if the tire pressure is too low.
Slim down your odds of a rollover by slimming down the vehicle. No overloading!
Check out this Safe Loading Guide for an easy reference.
This mobility update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is a mobility equipment and accessibility expert!