by Christian Guerithault
Enterprise Holdings, which operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands, provides a variety of mobility equipment to individuals with disabilities, including hand controls, spinner knobs, left foot accelerators and pedal extenders.
Mike Rollins, Vice President of Airports for Enterprise in Phoenix, has been in the car rental industry for about 35 years and with Enterprise for the past 10 years. He started as a part-time employee in college.
In 2006, Rollins’ son sustained an incomplete C-level spinal injury. He doesn’t need to use hand controls, however the injury impacted Rollins.
“For me, working with Ability360 is more of a personal passion,” Rollins said. “That’s why I’ll spend my time, money and effort in areas to help places like Ability360 and some of the organizations that are involved in helping individuals with disabilities, physically or whatever it may be. I think it opens up your heart to a little more compassion when it hits you close to home.”
“We probably prepare somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40 reservations per month for people that have requested hand controls in Arizona,” Rollins said. “Although that number may vary a bit seasonally.”
Rollins said on average it takes about 90 minutes to put a hand control unit on a car and about 45 minutes to remove it.
“We need to make sure we have a certified technician putting the hand control unit on and that it’s installed and inspected correctly before we hand the keys over to the customer,” he said.
As of today, Enterprise has several different car models in Phoenix compatible with hand controls. Rollins said that the list is getting shorter though because many newer car models are manufactured with airbags below the steering wheel, preventing the safe installation of hand controls.
“The ADA is important to us, and we know we have a duty to make reasonable accommodations for our customers with disabilities,” Rollins said. “But at the end of the day, they’re our customers and we want to do what’s right; so disabled or not we try to take care of our customers in the best way that we can. We think we do a good job with out customer service.”
Rollins said MPS (Manufacturing & Production Services) provides hand control units to Enterprise.
“What (MPS) provides for us is a very sturdy unit,” he said. “It’s one that’s been accessible and usable by virtually all of our customers. The MPS unit works very well and our customers love it. It’s never been a problem or an issue.”
Rollins said that Enterprise airport locations typically require a 24-hour notice when it comes to customers requesting various accommodations, although some locations require as little as eight business hours.
“We ask for notice because of the time it takes to locate compatible vehicles and install the equipment,” he said.
Rollins said that renting vehicles with hand controls has changed drastically throughout the years.
“When I started in this business I think we would get two or three reservations a year for people requesting hand control units,” he said. “I think what is most noteworthy is the volume of business that we’re getting today speaks directly to the amount of travel that individuals with disabilities are conducting… It has increased a lot.”
“I don’t think it’s because of the rental car companies alone,” Rollins said. “I think we’re seeing that it’s because of accommodations across the travel industry throughout the country. Now you have people willing to travel because it’s not as difficult as it might have been 30 years ago. We are privileged to play a small role in that.”
What to know when renting a car with hand controls.
- Renee Tyree travels frequently as a regional director of pharmacy based out of Mesa, AZ. She has used rental vehicles with hand controls since the 1990s. She highlighted some of the most important things to know when renting a car with hand controls.
- Know what type of hand-control unit is being installed and make sure it fits your needs. Some of the units include push/right angle, push/pull, push/twist, and push/rock.
- Know the type of car the hand control unit is being installed in. Car models vary between two-door and four-door. Some individuals are only able to use one or the other.
- Know the safety precautions involved in driving a vehicle with hand controls. Some car rental companies may disable the driver knee bolster airbag to install units. Always discuss safety issues with hand control installers, as there may be ways to prevent certain safety issues
Christian Guerithault is a Senior at Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. He majors in Sports and Media Studies through ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Christian is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and has two older brothers. He loves the NBA, NFL, soccer, and the UFC. Christian hopes to one day work in the front office of a professional sports team.