You don’t want to take that Odyssey or that Element for a spin until you have been completely trained on your Honda wheelchair van and its equipment. The process of wheelchair van selection may involve any number of optional components, but training isn’t one of them!
The need for training should be obvious. It’s a matter of safety for you, your passengers and others. Inadequate training increases the risk of accidents. It’s that simple. And that’s why you can’t ignore the need for quality training on your vehicle and its associated equipment. Failing to train puts everyone at risk.
Training on your Honda
Training on your Honda will take place on two different levels. Initially, you’ll want to be completely familiar and skilled with the modifications designed to provide you with access to the “cockpit.”
This means working with your equipment dealer and any supporting documentation to fully understand the proper use of your ramp or lift and other components. That may include automatic entry systems, transfer seats, tie-downs, wheelchair docking devices or other related adaptations. Before you concern yourself with the actual driving, you need to have the “ins and outs of getting in and out” down to a science!
When you feel good about your skills in that area, you can begin training on the actual operation of your Honda wheelchair van. You need to fully understand how to operate any control modifications and, when applicable, their backup systems. You also need to develop a “feel” for the vehicle and a sufficient level of comfort with it.
That process usually begins with off-road instruction from your equipment dealer and/or your driving evaluator. That should give you a basic acquaintance with the way the van handles and how to drive it. However, you shouldn’t go straight from a controlled environment into traffic by yourself.
Instead, it’s important to seek out the services of a licensed driving instructor to sit with you and to guide you as you continue to train on your Honda wheelchair van. You should be able to find a good instructor no matter where you live. You can get more information about who to contact from your evaluator, equipment dealer, local rehabilitation offices, or local Department of Motor Vehicles.
In some areas, there are private firms that provide personalized instruction for wheelchair van drivers. These companies use licensed instructors and may offer better instructional choices for drivers who feel that they’d benefit from a greater-than-usual level of personal attention.
Continue Your Training
You’ll need to continue your training until you can pass the core requirements for licensing. That’s the bare legal minimum required to hit the road as the “official” driver of your new van. Generally speaking, those standards are not set exceptionally high. Most drivers can meet them shortly after initiating their training. After you’ve reached that point, training is essentially optional.
That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, though. You should continue your training on your Honda wheelchair van until you are completely confident and comfortable when operating the van. The risks associated with inadequate training are simply too high to ignore and the fact that you may be able to pass a state test doesn’t necessarily demonstrate sufficient competency to handle the variety of traffic situations you’re likely to encounter. In other words, you should continue to train until you know you’re completely ready to drive.
Learning how to operate your Honda wheelchair van and training on its equipment is an essential part of being a smart and safe driver. It’s a critical task and one that deserves a great deal of attention. Don’t neglect the training in a rush to take your Odyssey or Element for a spin!