In researching this Probe, Rolling Inspiration contacted 39 car rental companies to find out what is available for disabled drivers. Only six large national companies can assist disabled drivers, but smaller firms, unanimously, report that they never get requests for adapted vehicles. A few have had requests for the seats to be removed from a Kombi or Vito so that a person in a wheelchair can fit inside the vehicle. Not a single car rental company has any vehicles with ramps, hoists, lifts or tie downs for hire.
In discussing the car hire issue with disabled drivers, the most common complaint was that there are no adapted hire cars in the cheaper categories. This makes it more expensive for disabled drivers to hire cars. Although there are a number of low-end automatic cars available for sale in the local market, the rental companies don’t buy these for their fleets!
The cheapest adapted hire cars we found were in Group C – Nissan Almera from National Alamo and Budget, and in Group D – Toyota Corolla or VW Polo from Imperial and Avis.
Most of the big six rental companies need some ‘lead time’ (advanced booking) for an adapted car, because they do not have vehicles with permanently fitted hand controls. When a request comes in, they send the vehicle to the workshop where the hand control is fitted per request. Only Avis has vehicles with permanently fitted hand controls. But even with ten vehicles around the country, they still need advance notice to ensure that a vehicle is always available.
If a non-driving disabled person wants to hire a vehicle in their own name but with a third party as driver, they are usually required to pay an additional driver fee. This is usually about R110 per driver. However, some rental companies are willing to waiver the additional drivers’ fee on the merits or each individual case. So if you are in this situation, then ask!
Two new services have recently been launched by the big rental companies. The point-to-point service picks up and drops off passengers at their request. The chauffer-driven service is more personalized, with the passenger driven to a destination by chauffeur, who waits as necessary. These services may even work out cheaper than hiring a car for a day if just a short trip is required.
The companies listed below can provide a vehicle with hand controls. A price comparison has been done on a one-day rental with standard theft and damage waivers, but remember that all rental prices depend on the number of days, distance travelled, seasonal demand, age of driver, amount of insurance cover requested, etc.
T: 0861 113748
Adapted cars available:
Group D – VW Polo or similar, from R453.00 plus 200km free per day.
Group G – Mercedes, from R1066.00 plus 200km free per day.
Special rates are available to all customers from time to time.
Lead time: 72 hours
Availability: From mid-March there will be 10 vehicles countrywide with permanently fitted hand controls. Avis also has 6 temporary hand control units that can be fitted to vehicles on request during high demand periods.
Other services: Avis will remove seats from Vito or Kombi vehicles with 72 hours notice. They also offer the Avis Point 2 Point and Avis Chauffer Drive.
Comments: Avis has lead the South African rental market with hand control availability at all major centres. Increased demand has impelled them to fit certain vehicles with permanent hand controls. Should the demand increase, they will equip additional vehicles with permanent units. Avis has procured new, better quality temporary units.
0861 131 000 – 24 hour call centre
Adapted cars available: (Group D) Toyota Corolla from R455.00 per day for 1 or 2 days plus 100km free per day.
Lead time: Minimum 24 hours notice.
Availability: All branches.
Other services: Group E Toyota Quantum: Can remove seats if required – 24 hours notice. IMPERIAL Chauffer drive services are available too.
0861 600 136
Adapted cars available: Group F BMW from R680.00 includes 200km per day fitted with temporary Easy Rider hand controls.
Lead Time: Minimum 24 hours notice.
Availability: JHB, Durban, CT, PE.
Other Services: Group E VW Vito and Kombi vans can have seats removed if required with 24 hours notice. Chauffer Drive and Point-to-Point services are available.
TEMPEST SIXT CAR HIRE
0861TEMPEST / firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapted cars available: Group D Automatic Toyota Corolla, R421.00 plus 200km free per day.
Lead time: 2 weeks
Availability: JHB, CT, Durban
Other services: Group E VW Vito or Kombi vans can have seats removed with 2-weeks notice. Additional charges apply for removing seats in passenger vehicles.
Tempest Transfers offers airport transfers to and from JHB, CT and Durban International airports.
Comments: Tempest is happy to accommodate disabled clients and is understanding of their specialized needs and requirements.
Lead time: 24 hours
Availability: Major airports and major centres if enough notice is given.
Other services: Willing to remove seats from Vito or Kombi type vehicles at least 3 hours in advance at major centres and 24 hours in advance in the outlying areas. They offer a chauffer drive service and a “pick-up-and-drop-off” service will be launched in April.
Cheapest adapted rental car: Group C Nissan Almera 1.6 from R449.00 plus 200km free per day.
Lead time: Due to a limited number of hand controls it is recommended to book as far in advance as possible.
Availability: JHB, Durban, CT
Other services: Willing to remove seats from VW Vito or Kombi vans at no extra charge. Both Chauffeur Drive and Point-to-Point services are available. Contact 0861 100 424 or email@example.com.
Bring your own Ramp
Rental companies that are willing to remove seats from their larger vehicles for passengers with their own ramps include:
CABS Car Hire – 012 6831932; 011 974 4301; www.cabs.co.za
Dollar Thrifty – 0861002111 www.thrifty.co.za
Abba Car and Combi Hire – 021 9342066; 012 3610483
Rent and Drive – 031 3324987 www.rentanddrive.co.za
Both QASA and SASAPD (South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled) have mini-buses that are available for hire, which have been fitted with lifts to make them fully wheelchair accessible. For information regarding the use of these vehicles contact:
QASA – 031 767 0348 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SASAPD - 011 8739191 or email@example.com.