Understanding the Safety and Usability of Personal Vehicles for Households of Individuals with Disabilities

Literature has demonstrated that having stable access to a personal vehicle for individuals with disabilities (IWDs) and their household family members may contribute to their sense of independence, while reducing risk of social marginalization (Jansuwan et al. 2013; Power, 2016). Rosenbloom (2007) also reported the dependence non-driving IWDs have on personal vehicles, with the majority of their transportation needs met by private cars due to factors such as insufficient public transportation options. With the inordinate cost of owning and modifying vehicles to support the needs of the IWDs, literature suggests that vehicle accessibility modifications may be fashioned by unqualified actors, and/or not properly adjusted as the disabilities of the individual change over time, potentially compromising the safety and well-being of both passengers and drivers (Batavia & Bealaurier, 2001; Di Stefano, 2019; NHTSA, n.d.). Though prior research demonstrates the equity that personal vehicles bring, there is limited literature aimed at understanding the safety and use of personal vehicles from the combined perspectives of the IWDs, their household family members, and home health care workers. This research aims to understand how owning and operating a household vehicle used to transport IWDs influences the comfort, safety, and ease of use and for IWDs, their family members and home health care workers. In other words, we will be analyzing the accessibility modifications, subsequent safety risks and its implications on the overall well-being of IWD, alongside their household family members and home healthcare workers.

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University
Principal Investigator: 
Anil Kumar, PhD & Hannah Bowman
PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San Jose, CA 95112

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $4,883.60

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
January 2021 to June 2021
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

Subsequent results from this research aim to provide insights and design recommendations that are actionable within the commercial vehicle industry; while providing visibility, representation, and perspective into this largely overlooked group of drivers and passengers.

Project Number: 



Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: mineta-institute@sjsu.edu