Let wheelchairs in drive-thrus?Sep 20 07:41
If you use a wheelchair, you know you’ve thought about it as you’ve zoomed by a fast food place both famished and in a rush, contemplating the easiest way possible to get your grub. The drive-through beckons like the third door in a maze; you know you shouldn’t go there, but the temptation is too great. After all, you’re on four wheels right? That’s almost car-ish. But surprise, surprise, many fast food joints do not agree.
I’m not sure how long wheelchairs using drive-thrus have been a problem, but I’m guessing it started once power wheelchairs were invented in the 1970’s. You’ve got people like you and me who’ve thought about taking a gastronomical joyride through our favorite drive-thru, and then you have the people who could care less about how they’re perceived and use the drive-through unabashedly. Maybe I’m too timid or maybe I care too much about standing out more than I already do, but I’m not quite sure if I could do it.
The legalities of whether or not restaurants can rightfully ban wheelchairs from using their drive-throughs has become a sticking point the past few years amongst fast food joints. Restaurants against wheelchairs using drive-thrus contend its too dangerous and that they might get hit by the other cars in the drive-thru and be an overall general hazard. A very legitimate argument making the question, “How many distracted people do you think use the drive-thru on a daily basis?” almost laughable. Nearly everyone has their mind someone else while waiting in line, and the last thing they’re expecting is a wheelchair.
In 2009, a woman in Minneapolis filed suit against White Castle for not allowing her to use the drive-through (a suit she lost later that year). Burger King meanwhile has it in their official documentation that wheelchairs aren’t allowed in their drive-thrus. Some employees however, like this BK Manager, look the other way and serve wc-users anyways. And we can’t forget about Don Talley, a scooter-user from Modesto, California, who was banned from using the drive-thru at McDonald’s, but in the process discovered Jack-in-the-Box rules, and allows “any vehicle with an electric motor” to use their drive-though.
What do you think? Should wheelchairs be allowed, no questions asked (an “Enter at your own risk,” kind of thing)? Or do you think letting wheelchairs in such close proximity to cars is too risky?
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1. Nikoletta | Sep 22 06:00
No, absolutely not, wheelchairs should not be allowed in drive-thrus. Apart from the safety issues, I really don't view wheelchairs as "vehicles". Wheelchairs are meant to assist people with mobility, not function as cars. Only makes us subject to legal obligations and differentiates us from not only the able-bodied population but the actual vehicles as well. We don't have the right to "drive" on the road, so I don't see why we should be associated with vehicles in this sense. We ask for equal treatment, but an able-bodied/walking person is not allowed to "walk-through" a "drive-thru" so why should we be allowed? Counter-productive to the equality we've asked for.
2. Paul Barry | Sep 26 12:58
While I'm not big on fast food, I regularly use a drive-thru coffee place. The cars seem to fear hitting me more than they need to. I've had drivers get out of their cars and offer to order for me. I also get many odd looks but wtf. Plus, as I can't speak, I need to hold up my iPad with my order. The service staff have gotten used to me. The best thing I've done recently is put a cup holder on the arm of my chair. I no longer need to go through the perilous adventure of carrying hot coffee on my lap!
3. Dr duke | Oct 06 01:42
Our Hardee's used to have a sign that said No Shoes, No Shirt, Use Drive-thru. So if you took of your shirt or shoes you would be ok : )
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.