HOW WILL I KNOW THAT THE VEHICLE I PURCHASE ONLINE WILL BE COMPLIANT WITH INDUSTRY STANDARDS?
You will have to ask the retailer. Recognized industry standards are administered by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. You can ask your retailer or contact NMEDA at 1-800-833-0427.
WILL MY VEHICLE THAT I PURCHASE ONLINE BE COMPLIANT WITH FEDERAL REGULATIONS?
Again, you will have to ask the retailer. Key federal regulations for the adaptive equipment industry are contained in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These regulations govern issues such as fuel system integrity, occupant protection and restraint systems (seat belts). Another important set of federal regulations to ask the dealer about is compliance with EPA emissions requirements, including regulations applicable to the fuel tank. Ask the seller about documentation verifying compliance.
DOES CONFORMANCE WITH FEDERAL REGULATIONS REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Yes. Key federal regulations that regulate the adaptive equipment industry fit into three important categories: Crash Avoidance, Occupant Protection, and Post-crash Protection. The crash avoidance regulations relate to issues such as overloading a vehicle and weight distribution which can affect the vehicle’s ability to maneuver and stop properly. Occupant protection regulations address issues such as the integrity of seats, seatbelts, door retention components and air bags. Post-crash protection involves such issues as fuel system safety and flammability. There are also federal standards on wheelchair lifts and wheelchair lift installation. Non-conformance with these regulations can increase the likelihood that your vehicle may become involved in an accident and that the passengers will sustain substantial injuries.
IS THERE ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS THAT PREVENTS ME FROM PURCHASING A NON-COMPLIANT VEHICLE?
Yes, but budget limitations hamper federal agencies from doing as much enforcement as they would like. Conformance to the FMVSS is on a “self-certification” basis and there is limited oversight by the Federal Government. This is an important reason why you have to get to know the company from whom you are buying. Federal enforcement often only occurs once a substantial number of accidents occur and are reported to NHTSA.