Understanding the Safety and Usability of Personal Vehicles for Individuals with Disabilities and their Families/Care Providers

The connections between shared personal vehicles of individuals with disabilities (IWDs) and their household family members play an important role in the mobility, overall health, and well-being of all involved actors, yet this topic remains mostly overlooked within publicly available research. Families that include a non-driving IWD are more likely to be low-income, and often struggle with the costs of operating a family car but, due to insufficient public transportation options, they own vehicles despite their prohibitive cost. This exploratory study utilized the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) model, a framework focused on assessing the interplaying sociotechnical factors that contribute toward work-systems to gain a holistic understanding of the factors that influence household vehicles, safety, and a sense of well-being for non-driving IWDs and their household family members. A combined effort of surveys, interviews, qualitative coding, and statistical analysis (including one-way ANOVA) revealed a series of influential factors, including: (1) slow bureaucratic processes for vehicle funding; (2) error-prone modifications including lift and tie-downs; (3) miscommunications between IWDs and family members; and (4) residential area development and subsequent social support. Findings highlight the need for improved access to government funding, more reliable modification equipment, and interior vehicle designs that consider better social integration for IWDs.

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
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