Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 12:23 EDT

Office Star to Launch Safety Campaign at The Mobility Roadshow

June 19, 2012

NORWICH, England, June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

A high-profile disabled actress and disability campaigner has put her name to a
campaign to improve the safety of wheelchair users on the road.

Julie Fernandez disabled star of The Office will be at Constables Mobility’s stand
(TD8) at The Mobility Roadshow to launch the sled-testing e-petition
[http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34003 ] being run by Disabled Motoring UK.

Disabled Motoring UK’s campaign, which is supported by Constables Mobility and a
number of other organisations, highlights the need for all converted vehicles to be sled
tested and wants a change in legislation that will improve the safety of wheelchair
accessible vehicles (WAVs).

It urges buyers of converted cars to demand sled-testing certificates – the only way
to check a vehicle is as safe as possible. The campaign will also seek to change
legislation so only ‘sled tested’ vehicles can be sold.

Julie Fernandez, who starred alongside Ricky Gervais in BBC TV series The Office,
said: “I’m proud to be getting behind this campaign. When I first heard about it, I
couldn’t and still can’t believe that sled testing isn’t already a requirement for all
converted vehicles. I’m really hoping that we raise awareness of the issue and that the
e-petition receives enough signatures for the campaign to be discussed by the government.”

Helen Dolphin, Director of Policy and Campaigns, for Disabled Motoring UK said: “We
are really pleased to have Julie on board with our campaign.”

The campaign is also being supported by ex-Eastenders’ actor David Proud, vehicle
converters: Constables Mobility [http://www.constablesmobility.com ]; Lateral
[http://www.lateraldc.co.uk/home ]; Concept V1 [http://www.conceptv1.com/default.aspx ],
disability press: Ability Needs [http://www.abilityneeds.co.uk/index.html ] and Disability
Magazine [http://www.disabilitymagazine.co.uk ], and Sarah Ismail
[http://samedifference1.com ], disabled rights writer, blogger and campaigner.

Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) campaigns on behalf of all disabled motorists, passengers
and Blue Badge holders. The charity represents their interests at both local and national
levels, and engages with government and industry to ensure that the voice of disabled
people is heard.

DMUK is the only UK charity that campaigns on behalf of disabled people in this way.
Without DMUK there would be no Blue Badge scheme, no Motability cars, and no mobility
component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to help disabled people defray some of the
extra travel and transport costs that they incur.

Constables Mobility is one of the UK’s leading reputable manufacturers and suppliers
of rear access Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. Renowned for their quality British
engineering and innovation, Constables builds wheelchair accessible vehicles to the
highest standards, offering the family and wheelchair passenger true freedom,
independence, good accessibility and exceptional user comfort.

Notes to editors:

What is sled testing?

The sled test is similar to the crash testing that many of us have seen on TV a dummy
is strapped into a wheelchair in the body of the car, which is then put through head-on
collisions to check that both the belts and their fixings are strong enough to withstand a
real-life accident and keep the wheelchair passenger secure.

Sled testing is the only means of proving that the cell (i.e. the conversion anchorage
points together with the belts and tie-downs) is safe.

The industry has witnessed a 50 per cent failure rate with the wheelchair and occupant
sled test, even when the conversion has previously been pull-tested and the belts and
tie-downs have been tested separately by the belt manufacturer. It is when the constituent
parts are put together as a complete system that they fail.

Why is testing important?

        - Converting a WAV involves major changes so the original tests may no
          longer apply
        - In a WAV, the wheelchair is the seat but it wasn't there when the original car
          was tested
        - Testing is needed to check both the fixings and the belts work properly in the
          event of a crash
        - Sled testing is the only test that actively checks whether the WAV is able to
          keep the wheelchair passenger secure in a real-life accident.

How do people make sure the vehicle they are buying is safe for the driver and
wheelchair user?

Converting a car to make it wheelchair accessible is a complex process involving
significant structural changes to the vehicle such as lowering the floor. If this is not
done properly, and by experts, the car may be unsafe.

The simple way to check whether a new car meets these standards is to ask to see its
certification. Sled tested WAVs will have an ECWVTA.M1 certificate. But do check that the
certificate is for the conversion, not the original car.

Julie Fernandez will be at Constables Mobility’s stand (TD8) on Thursday 21st at
11.30am for the launch and a photocall. Pictures will be available on request after the

For more information or interview requests contact Helen Dolphin Director of Policy
and Campaigns Disabled Motoring UK helen@disabledmotoring.org. +44(0)1508-489449 or
e-mail or Suzi Christie at Blueberry PR (for Constables Mobility) on +44(0)1435-830031 or
e-mail suzi@blueberry-pr.co.uk

You can sign the e-petition by visiting


Learn more about the campaign at http://www.sledtesting.co.uk

SOURCE Disabled Motoring UK and Constables Mobility

Source: PR Newswire