AN ENTREPRENEUR and engineer who spent the last 30 years helping wheelchair users improve their lives has put his money where his mouth is.
David Constable, who lives in Hooe and runs Constables in Golden Cross, has produced a video explaining why he backs a national safety campaign. The video contains graphic and shocking images of a wheelchair accessible vehicle failing a sled test.
Earlier this year Disabled Motoring UK launched their sled test campaign to get equal treatment for disabled people and stop vehicles being sold unless they have been properly crash tested. The safety campaign urges buyers of wheelchair accessible cars to demand sled testing certificates – the only way to check a vehicle is as safe as possible.
David Constable pioneered the safe conversion of cars to make them wheelchair accessible – enabling thousands of disabled people in the UK and abroad to travel in comfort, safety and style for the first time. He explained: “Unfortunately some convertors that followed in my company’s footsteps have been more concerned with profits than safety.
“Now, because of the lack of regulations and legal loopholes in the law, there are wheelchair accessible vehicles being sold that have not been crash tested after they have been converted.
“I strongly agree with Disabled Motoring UK that it is a human right for wheelchair users to be able to buy a converted vehicle that has been properly tested. Companies who convert cars should only be allowed to sell them if they have been successfully tested after conversion – including being sled tested - so the vehicle meets and exceeds the latest European safety standards.”
A sled test is similar to crash testing seen on TV. A dummy is strapped into a wheelchair in the car, which is then put through head-on collisions to check that both the belts and their fixings are strong enough to withstand a real-life accident and keep the wheelchair user secure.
The reason testing is so vital after conversion to a wheelchair accessible vehicle is because converting a car is a complex process involving significant structural changes to the vehicle such as lowering the floor. If this is not done properly, and by experts, the car may be unsafe. In 1999 David helped to found the first industry body for companies who convert cars - the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Converters’ Association (WAVCA).