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UFWDA Community Forum  |  UFWDA General Discussion  |  General UFWDA Topics  |  Topic: 4x4 Motor Vehicles used as Other Power-Drive Mobility Devices « previous next »
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Author Topic: 4x4 Motor Vehicles used as Other Power-Drive Mobility Devices  (Read 2354 times)
Peter Vahry
UFWDA International Vice-President

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« on: March 15, 2011, 03:37:00 am »

4x4 Motor Vehicles used as Other Power-Drive Mobility Devices on State, Local, and Private Entity Programs Open to the Public.
By:  Carla Boucher, Attorney
United Four Wheel Drive Associations


The Department of Justice amended its regulations implementing Title II and Title III of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The new DOJ regulations were final on September 15, 2010, but the changes actually become effective on March 15, 2011.  These new regulations could offer additional opportunities for use by 4x4 motor vehicles on lands managed by state and local governments and private entities open to the public that are subject to the provisions of the ADA. These regulations are relative to 4x4 motor vehicle use only if the motor vehicle falls into the classification of “other power-driven mobility devices” under the rule and the driver is mobility impaired.  

Here’s what happened.  The DOJ revised compliance regulations under the ADA.  The regulations pertain to service animals, ticketing, use of wheelchairs, manually-powered mobility aids, and other power-driven mobility devices.  A 4x4 might now be considered under the  “Other power-driven mobility devices” (OPDMD) because OPDMD is defined as any mobility devised powered by fuel or other engines, whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities, if it is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion.  OPDMD might be things like Segway’s golf carts, and yes 4x4 motor vehicles.  

DOJ regulations state that if you use an OPDMD, for example a 4x4, to move around based on your disability, you must be allowed to use your 4x4 to move around any state, local, or private entity location open to the public that is already subject to the requirements of the ADA.  In essence, the DOJ has amended its regulations implementing the ADA to move away from accessibility only for those in traditional human-powered wheel-chairs to include accessibility for those using power-driven devices.  

This does not mean everyone with a 4x4 gets to go everywhere on state, local, or private entities.

It does mean that if you are mobility impaired, you will no longer be discriminated against because your mobility devise is motorized rather than human-powered.  

There are several important pieces of the regulations you need to know.
-  The regulations pertain to people who are mobility impaired.  If you are not mobility impaired then the accessibility standard does not apply.  What constitutes mobility impaired is very broadly contemplated by the regulations.  
   - No later than March 15, 2011, all public entities, including state and local government, and privately owned or operated facilities open to the public (known collectively as public entities), will be allowed to impose legitimate safety requirements necessary for the safe operation of their facilities or programs, however they may not discriminate based on mere speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations about individuals with disabilities, when limiting access to mobility impaired people.
   -  Public entities must make reasonable changes to their procedures to permit the use of your 4x4, when used as an OPDMD, unless they demonstrate that your 4x4 as a class of OPDMD cannot be operated safely.  
   - Public entities can demonstrate that your 4x4 as a class of OPDMD cannot be operated safely after considering 5 assessment factors listed in the regulations.  Of those the most relevant to 4x4 use is whether the use of the 4x4 OPDMD creates a substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment or natural or cultural resources or poses a conflict with Federal land management laws and regulations.  

The regulations require a public entity, when determining if your 4x4 OPDMD is allowed, to consider:
1)  The type, size, weight, dimensions, and the speed of the device;
2)  The facility’s value of pedestrian traffic (which may vary at different times of day, week, month, or year);
3)  The facility’s design and operational characteristics (e.g., whether its service, program or activity is conducted indoors, its square footage, the density and placement of stationary devices, and the availability of storage for the device, if required by the user);
4)  Whether legitimate safety requirements can be established to permit the safe operation of the other power-driven mobility device in the specific facility; and
5)  Whether the use of the other power-driven mobility device creates a substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment or natural or cultural resources, or poses a conflict with Federal land management laws and regulations.  

I think these regulations will open up some accessibility for mobility impaired people using 4x4’s as their OPDMD.  I think there will be a clear line where accessibility will not be a consideration, such as inside a building with high pedestrian traffic.  If you were denied access with your 4x4 inside a state building before, you’ll still be denied access.   The important part is that your state and local government, and private entities open to the public, must go through the process now of assessing whether or not they are discriminating against you by denying access in your 4x4.  

There is more likelihood that you should now be allowed to use your 4x4 as your OPDMD on areas where you were formerly prohibited such as state walking trails, pedestrian scenic overlooks, on single track motorcycle trails, snowmobile trails, and the like.  If you possess a valid, state-issued, disability parking placard or card, the public entities must accept that as proof of your disability without further question.  In addition, if you state you are mobility impaired and your 4x4 is your OPDMD, the public entity must accept your statement at face value (as valid) unless it is contradicted by observable fact.  

There are some final key ideas to keep in mind.
   - The rule does not apply to trails or roads managed by the federal government, including the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, or the National Park Service, for example because those entities are not governed by the ADA titles II and III.  Accessibility to areas and program managed by the US Forest Service, BLM or NPS, are governed by the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, not the ADA.
   - All public entities are required to assess and have their accessibility policies in place by March 15, 2011.  So if you drive up in your 4x4 to any given facility on March 15, 2011, expect your state and local government, and private entity programs, to already have a revised policy in place based on the new ADA regulations.  They are required to know the answer when you get there on March 15, 2011 and expect to be able to drive your 4x4 in a given area or place.  

If you encounter a problem using your 4x4 to access a place subject to the ADA, please notify UFWDA at president@ufwda.org.  


For more information see the following documents.
*  Federal Register Notice of Final Rule on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services
*  Redacted Text of ADA Title II regulations

American Trails, as part of their trails accessibility mission, recently conducted a webinar regarding the new DOJ regulations.  American Trails also provides comprehensive information such as their DOJ Question & Answers document.  See http://www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/power-mobility-questions-answers.html.

If you encounter a problem using your 4x4 to access a place subject to the ADA, please notify UFWDA at president@ufwda.org.  

« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 03:41:36 am by Peter Vahry » Logged

Auckland Four Wheel Drive Club Inc, 4x4 Challenges NZ Inc, NZFWDA life member
Keith Holman
Middle Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association

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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2011, 09:17:13 pm »

Interesting turn of events.
So, if I am reading this correctly, my sister who is mobility impaired and has the requisite Handicap Access hang tag could potentially use my 4x4 as her access to a state run park trail while the rest of our family walks in front or behind and allowing her to head out to the scenic overlook with us? Cool!
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Middle Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association
Pat Brower
Great Lakes Four Wheel Drive Association

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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2011, 11:49:12 pm »

Interesting indeed.

Could this have any potential to help ease restrictions with the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) or the 1973 Rehabilitation Act?
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