By on September 11, 2007

sema_in_car.jpgAn agreement between Massachusetts auto dealer Ernie Boch Jr. and a disabled driver could impact dealerships across the country. BostonNOW reports that a wheelchair-bound customer asked one of Ernie's salesmen to install temporary hand controls so she could test drive a car. The dealership refused. The customer filed a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), stating the dealership refused to offer "reasonable accommodation" as required by the law. Nine months later, the customer dropped her complaint; the dealership agreed to purchase temporary hand controls to accommodate disabled customers. "I didn't realize how many people actually needed [hand controls]," Ernie demurred. "I don't think I placed any importance on it at first." All eight of Ernie's stores will now make the controls available to disabled drivers. Other dealers will probably follow [law] suit.

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5 Comments on “Disabled Driver Secures Right to Test Drive Vehicles...”

  • avatar

    Penn & Teller did an excellent episode of Bullsh*t! about the ADA… They’d have a field day with this one.

    Disabled people coping with their handicaps is heroic… Coping by threatening lawsuits… Notsomuch.

    A car dealer shouldn’t be forced to provide hand controls, they should do so simply because it is good business.

  • avatar

    I just wonder how easily installed/removed the controls are, and whether any interior scratches/ damage occurs (I would imagine some). If that’s the case, I could see small dealers resisting, if a test drive would result in a “damaged” vehicle. That said, kudos to those who attempt to overcome disability.

  • avatar

    A car dealer shouldn’t be forced to provide hand controls, they should do so simply because it is good business.

    And if none of the dealers within a reasonable distance of said disabled driver provide temporary adaptive equipment, and none of them decided to provide any when asked, then what is a disabled person to do?

    Yes, they should provide them because it’s good customer service. But all too often ignorance, bigotry, and the general tendancy many business owners have for being tightwads gets in the way of business sense.

  • avatar

    excellent. about time. i applaud this courageous person.

  • avatar

    I can answer the question about ease of install and damage by portable or temporary hand controls. My family business has made one since the 1970s. The installation consists of 2 brackets tightened by a wing nut on the pedals, and a soft strap that goes over the steering column.

    Most foot users or auto dealers probably would volunteer to accommodate people if they thought about it, but it doesn’t occur to them until a bored lawyer starts circling. The portable is a quick fix and insurance against a lawsuit or ADA violation.

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