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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Challenges Facing People with Disabilities in Private Vehicular Transportation in the United States of America

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The majority of people with disabilities in the United States of America (US) are licensed drivers or use transportation modes based on private vehicles. Despite this, people with disabilities, including licensed drivers, still often encounter difficulties that limit their overall mobility and quality of life. Research about the problems with private vehicular modes facing people with disabilities remains sparse. Existing research suggests that some disabilities make driving impossible, while poverty often associated with disability makes owning and modifying vehicles to fit users’ needs unaffordable. People with disabilities who cannot drive or cannot afford to own a vehicle may use rental cars or carsharing services, get rides from friends or family, or use ridehailing services or taxis, but car-oriented land use patterns and the higher costs of modified vehicles together may compromise the availability of these modes for people with disabilities. Better understanding of the challenges that people with disabilities face with these modes and of associated land use issues is critical for new modes & policies to sustainably improve the mobility of people with disabilities.

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