Safety FIRST! An Important Lesson About Vehicle Lifts

Safety first blog photo
Gretchen was never told a lift wouldn’t fit her vehicle

By: Emily Maurer, Resource Coordinator

A good friend of Gretchen’s requested assistance for her on the aid.org website. The request seemed simple enough; a power lift for Gretchen’s scooter to allow her more freedom & independence. You see, Gretchen has survived two cancer diagnoses and treatments. She has come out on the other side of treatment a little battered and bruised but still with lots of fight left in her 74-year-old body. It just takes a little extra help and support.

Gretchen has a state of the art light weight scooter and a brand new compact sedan. Although the scooter is considered fold-able & lightweight, lifting a 65-pound scooter into a vehicle would be challenging even for the most capable adult. When I called and spoke with Gretchen she explained her situation and even had several lift recommendations that had been recommended to her by the company from which she received her scooter. She had done research on her own too to see what type of hitch her vehicle could support and thought she had all things in order to get the lift–except the funds needed. After Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities – Foundation agreed to help her out, I began researching to see if we could get the best lift at the best price.

Honestly, I was a little surprised at what I found. I called 8-10 different lift companies and although the sales people were all very interested in selling the lift, very few gave me a full picture of using a lift on a small compact vehicle. I called one last place as I was ready to purchase and I was sure that I had found the right make, model, weight etc. for Gretchen’s lift. As I relayed my information to the sales technician, he stopped me. He said, “I am sorry, but I cannot in good conscience sell a lift for the vehicle you are describing.” I was really disappointed! He went on to explain that the manufacturers of the lift would not recommend any lift for that vehicle because the weight at the back of the car would make the vehicle unsafe to drive, putting my sweet client at risk. I probed a little further and asked why no other person had raised this concern. A simple answer, “This industry is driven by sales, not by consumer safety.” I was very surprised and very disappointed. Disappointed in the other companies that I had spoken to, and also disappointed that we would no longer be able to give Gretchen her much needed lift.

I learned a lot though this process. If you are in the market for a lift, the key question that you need to ask the sales representative is if the LIFT MANUFACTURER (not the sales team, scooter company, or vehicle manufacturer) recommends use of this lift with their vehicle. The lift manufacturers are the ones that know the safety and limits of their product.

Gretchen was gracious and understood that there wasn’t a lift appropriate for her vehicle–she was thankful that we were looking out for her safety first! That’s the kind of spirit that has gotten her through the challenges that life has given her and that’s the spirit that will keep on tackling those challenges, scooter lift or not!

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