Adaptive Driving – Hand Controls for the Disabled

How handicap hand controls are used?

A non-handicapped individual may often wonder how a mobility disabled individual can drive a regular car. The automobile industry has advanced greatly and has come up with ingenious ways to provide mobility independence and make disabled driving a possibility. People who are wheelchair ridden use their hands to get around. Cars are installed with handicap hand controls in order to help such individuals drive. Several custom adjustments may be made to a car in order to suit your personal needs.

In most cases, the regular functioning of the brakes and gas are kept intact so that the resale value of the car is not depleted. Additional hand controls are simply installed within the reach of the driver which helps operate the vehicle. An automatic transmission vehicle is compulsory for these disabled hand controls to work. Usually a single lever is installed for gas and brake. A pull would accelerate the car while pushing on the lever will apply brakes to it. Additional levers and buttons may be installed for horns, lights, indicators, wipers and so on.

Even though all these handicap hand controls may be bought at a number of stores, it is advisable to have the authorized dealer install it for you. Installing a hand control for effective adaptive driving can be a very tiresome task. Moreover, being certain that has been installed correctly is imperative to your safety while driving. The cost of these hand controls may run quite high. Installation charges are then added on to that. However, authorized dealers often offer a $1000 adaptive driving rebate to install certain handicap hand controls.

There are also several agencies like the Veteran’s Administration, development disabilities services, local rehabilitation centers and such similar places that offer compensation. At times, health insurance companies or driving insurance companies cover costs for installing vehicle medications for adaptive driving. Help is available to make driving easier and possible for you. A disabled individual must not give up the hope of driving that soon!

Types of modifications for adaptive driving

Hand controls are not the only form of modifications that are possible on vehicles. There are several other ways in which adaptive driving is made possible. Some of the common modifications are:

    • Mechanical hand control: The mechanical hand control allows the disabled person to operate the vehicle with the help of handles, pivot points, and levers to control the turn signals, brakes, gas, acceleration and other driving functions like windshield, wipers, horn, AC etc. There are many variants of the hand control which are available in the automotive sector.
      • Detachable quick release accelerator ring hand control can be mounted easily over any kind of steering wheel. The person has to just gently push the ring towards the steering wheel in order to accelerate the vehicle.
      • The All-in-One unique mechanical brake and accelerator column can be mounted on the right or left side of the steering wheel and lets you accelerate and brake the vehicle with a minimal rotational movement of the hand.
  • Amputee driver rings, ball, Tri-Pin, and V-Grip spinner knob designs: The amputee driver rings are operation dependable and economical design grip for drivers with the prosthetic hook. The Spinner knob adds a quick release function – remove and refit at the touch of a button. The palm grip is fully compatible for customers, who do not require the wrist support. The V – grip is for drivers with moderate gripping strength. Also, the steering wheel can be installed with a Tri – Pin, which is great for an independent driver with minimal gripping strength or reduced risk stability. A single pin can be installed on the steering wheel in place of the spinner knob and is most suitable for clients who cannot open the hour hand completely, to operate the steering wheel.
  • Universal touch pad console: It is an electronic control designed for the intermediate control for individuals who require access to some common functions such as lights, wipers, fan speed, air conditioning and ignition.
  • Voice interactive controls: They provide the physically challenged drivers, the access to some important controls while driving like the turning signals, horns, headlight dimmers, vipers, air conditioning and many more voice automated features.
  • The left foot acceleration: This comes handy when the right foot cannot be used to operate the vehicle. In such cases a quick release left foot Gas Pedal device may be installed. Also, this pedal can be removed easily when other drivers need to drive the same vehicle.
  • Transfer Seats: They are an important aspect when the disabled person needs to be transferred through the mobility device or require assistance. These seats are specially designed for the disabled passengers and drivers in getting in and out of a variety of different vehicles which include cars, vans, trucks and SUVs.
  • Scooter lift or Wheelchair lift: These are used to outlift the vehicle with an Interior or exterior lift depending upon the type of mobility device and the style of vehicle. For an instance the caretaker just needs to stand near the bumper, connect the docking device and push the button. The vehicle left will lift the scooter or Power chair into the van, truck, SUV or car accordingly.
  • Siren detectors for the hearing impaired.
  • Bioptics for individuals with low vision.
  • Floor-mounted steering for complete foot control of the steering wheel.
  • Wheelchair adjustable seats and seatbelts for comfortable entry and exit from the car.
  • Pedal extender to raise the brakes and accelerator pedals for wheelchair accessibility.

Tips for disabled driving

Adaptive driving can be a very tiresome task. Knowing what is available and how to install hand controls and other devices can get overwhelming. Getting used to newly installed handicap hand controls can take awhile and a lot of practice.

  • The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists provides a thorough check up and useful recommendations of the types of hand controls and other modifications required by your car.
  • Conduct lots of research based on your special needs in order to find out what is available for you and your car.
  • Hand controls are hard to install, so make sure you have an experienced person install them for you.
  • Practice repeatedly with your adaptive driving controls before you hit the roads!

Adaptive driving for disabled individuals is becoming more and more popular as technological advances come up with various devices to help such individuals operate vehicles just like a regular person. Handicap hand controls, once installed, become a very easy way to operate vehicles for wheelchair ridden people. It gives such individuals a new outlook on life as they can now be independent and need not always rely on public transportation. Such improvements make adaptive driving a possibility and a comfort factor for the thousands of people who are now benefiting from it.


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