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U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces Final Rule to Permit Safe Modification Of Vehicles For People With Disabilities

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Norman Y. Mineta

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces Final Rule to Permit Safe Modification Of Vehicles For People With Disabilities

NHTSA
February 20, 2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 13-01
Monday, February 20, 2001
Contact: NHTSA, Elly Martin, (202) 366-9550

To increase mobility for those with physical disabilities, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced a final NHTSA rule to streamline the regulatory process for modifiers who adapt passenger vehicles for use by people with disabilities.

The new rule identifies specific features that may be safely altered, if necessary, when vehicles are modified for people with disabilities.

"Streamlining the regulatory process for certain of these vehicle modifications will help ensure that more Americans with disabilities enjoy greater mobility," Secretary Mineta said.

Individuals with disabilities are often unable to drive or ride in a passenger vehicle unless it has been specially modified to their needs. Some adaptations, such as installation of mechanical hand controls or a left foot accelerator, are relatively simple. Others, such as the installation of a joystick that controls steering, acceleration and braking, or the lowering of the vehicle floor, are more complicated.

NHTSA estimates there are more than 383,000 vehicles on the road today that are modified for use by people with disabilities. That number is expected to increase as the population ages and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) increases travel and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The new rule ties in with President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. The Bush Administration is asking Congress to significantly increase funding for low-interest loans so that more Americans with disabilities can purchase assistive technology and to ensure that improved technologies are available in the future.

The final rule is in NHTSA's Docket No. 01-8667 and will be posted in the Feb. 21, 2001, Federal Register. The rule will be effective on Apr. 21.

The new rule also is posted at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.

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