A constituent has brought to my attention the fact that motor vehicles that have been converted for wheelchair access are not yet required to pass sled test safety checks. Disabled Monitoring UK notes that: ‘The industry has witnessed a failure rate of up to 50 % with the wheelchair and occupant sled test, even when the conversion has previously been pull‑tested and the belts and tie-downs have been tested separately by the belt manufacturer. It is when the constituent parts are put together as a complete system that they fail.’
Given the Commission’s commitment in the 2010 Disability Strategy to increase accessibility to transport for disabled people, it seems reasonable that this accessibility should be combined with the highest safety regulations.
In light of this, can the Commission confirm whether the current roadworthiness requirements for vehicles that carry wheelchairs only concern the wheelchair fittings? Can the Commission clarify whether the sled test is required, and, if not, whether it might be possible to make the sled test compulsory for all converted vehicles and include it in future roadworthiness tests for wheelchair-accessible vehicles?