Electric vehicles (EVs) are continuing to change the face of the automotive industry. Their benefits go far beyond reducing the emissions created by fossil fuel-powered cars, offering drivers a smoother, more relaxing experience. EVs have also shown to be highly beneficial for drivers with certain disabilities, helping these individuals to maintain their freedom by making it easier for them to get behind the wheel.
But there’s little doubt that certain barriers still have to be overcome before there can be widespread takeup of EVs within the disabled community. One of the most prevalent is fears around the accessibility of public charging stations. Home charging points will go a long way to alleviate these fears, but for EVs to become a totally viable option, it’s essential that public stations can cater to anyone with accessibility needs.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the current challenges that charging stations present disabled EV drivers, and discuss how these challenges can be overcome.
If you’re unfamiliar with an area, and aren’t sure where the nearest stations are, you may also worry about whether or not the closest one will be accessible. To overcome this, the UK Government is working to implement a set of standards that, when rolled out, will make it easier for disabled drivers to use public charging points across the country.
Part of their plans concerns creating a ranking system that details how accessible any given charging station is, from fully accessible, to not accessible. This will help to take away some of the anxiety around not knowing if a driver will be able to use a public charging station, particularly when visiting an unfamiliar area.
Wheelchair accessibility is one of the most important considerations in determining whether or not a public charge point is fully accessible. There are lots of different elements to a charging station that could make it difficult to access for wheelchair users.
Firstly, both the height of the kerb (for on-street charging points) and the charger itself both have to be low enough so drivers using a wheelchair can easily use the technology. What’s more, in charging forecourts, there has to be ample space between charge points to allow people in wheelchairs to freely move around the station without obstruction.
As reported in this guide to EVs for drivers with disabilities, pop-up charge point company Urban Electric are working to address accessibility standards within their network. For instance, they’ve designed technology that allows users to automatically adjust the height of an electronic charging bollard via an app. Innovations such as this will likely play a crucial role in making the use of charge points more accessible for many years to come.
It’s clear that there is lots that can be done to improve charging facilities for EV drivers with all different types of disabilities. Whilst there is a long way to go, the signs are promising, with the government already taking the necessary steps to implement universally accessible charging stations across the country, helping to drive the shift towards an electric future.