How To Drive Safely If You Suffer From Breathing Difficulties

Being able to drive is imperative for many people. Disabled people in particular need to get around from point A to B seamlessly, and being able to do that in their own personal vehicle is often the only way they’re able to get where they’re going.

For those who suffer from breathing difficulties, getting behind the wheel of a car can be daunting. Respiratory illnesses can cause many debilitating symptoms that can hinder a person’s ability to drive safely, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stubborn cough
  • Chest pain

That doesn’t mean that people who suffer from this specific type of illness can’t safely operate a vehicle. They just simply have to be more mindful of how they do so, when they do so, and what they can do while their driving to ensure a safe arrival.

Dr Handicap - elderly people driving
Image by Wonderlane on Unsplash: Taking shorter trips while dealing with a lung disease can help you to determine how well you manage your lung disease while driving.

Driving with a respiratory illness

Driving isn’t usually a strenuous activity in and of itself, so many people who suffer from breathing difficulties find that they are able to drive without much effort. But there are some things that a person suffering a respiratory illness does need to take into account while they’re driving. For example, for someone with frequent coughing fits, being able to pull over may be helpful to keep them safe and focused while they’re on the road.

If the respiratory illness is new, taking short trips at first can be the best way to feel out how long you can be behind the wheel before symptoms come on that could hinder your ability to drive safely.

Can I get a disabled parking permit if I have breathing difficulties?

Depending on your illness, it is likely that you can get a disabled parking permit if you suffer from lung disease or another illness that causes breathing problems. Symptoms of respiratory illnesses, such as difficulty walking for long periods of time, can be avoided by the use of a parking permit, which reduces your need to walk longer distances between your vehicle and the place you’re going.

Specific illnesses that often qualify for parking permits include:

  • COPD
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Airway obstruction
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Hypertension

Parking pass availability will vary from state to state, and the severity of your condition will also play a key factor in whether or not you qualify. It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about your condition and find out local laws and application processes to ensure that you qualify for a parking permit in your area.

Breathing difficulties while driving: what you should do

If you are out on the road and find yourself experiencing worsening symptoms, it’s important to remember certain tips that will keep you and others safe while you are behind the wheel.

For coughing that lasts an extended period of time, pulling over in a safe place and allowing it to pass is the best bet to ensure that you can keep your concentration on the road ahead of you and other drivers. If you experience lots of sputum while coughing, you’ll want to have a handkerchief within safe reaching distance at all times.

You should also avoid any lung irritants, such as smoking, while behind the wheel of your car to help limit exacerbation of your condition. Knowing how your condition affects you and at what times it is at its worst will also give you the upper hand when it comes to knowing the best times to drive. If you are on oxygen, it’s also possible to adapt your car to carry your tank with you in a safe manner so that any sudden stops or jolts don’t cause it to become dislodged from its position and pose any problems.

Dr Handicap - drive safely
Image by Jackson David on Unsplash: Shortness of breath in cars can cause the driver to lose concentration, so it’s important to know how to safely travel while dealing with a lung condition.

Being able to drive yourself around is a level of freedom that everyone deserves to have. Breathing difficulties can be a debilitating part of daily life for those with lung conditions, but they don’t have to lead to the complete loss of your ability to drive. Getting a parking permit if you qualify can help you limit any excess walking that may be required to get from the parking lot to your destination. Get to know your illness and how it affects you, and you will be equipped with everything you need to know when it comes to driving while experiencing a lung issue that causes breathing difficulties.

Featured image by Tim Foster on Unsplash

How Much Does It Cost To Equip A Car With Hand Controls?

Millions of Americans have some type of disability. Many of the most common disabilities make it difficult or impossible for a person to drive a vehicle with standard controls that require the use of both arms and legs. For disabled drivers who cannot use their legs or feet to operate a vehicle’s pedals, hand controls are an excellent option.

Vehicle hand controls come in several different types. What type of hand controls a person requires depends on the type of disability they have. Some hand controls are simple devices that make turning a steering wheel easier, such as a steering wheel extension or steering ball, while others are more high-tech electronic adaptions.

People have many questions about hand controls: What type of hand controls are available? Can all types of vehicle be fitted with hand controls? Do you need special training to drive a vehicle with hand controls? How much does it cost to equip a car with hand controls? Below we’ll answer these questions and more.

Dr Handicap - hand controls
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: Hand controls make it possible to drive without using your feet or legs.

What Are Hand Controls For Disabled Drivers?

Hand controls refer to any device that is fitted or installed in a vehicle that enables a driver to operate the vehicle entirely with their hands. Hand controls make it possible to drive a vehicle without having to use legs or feet.

Who Uses Hand Controls In A Vehicle?

Hand controls are usually used by disabled drivers who cannot use their feet or legs to operate a vehicle. This could be a person who has had one or both legs amputated, or someone who has a loss of mobility or power in their leg or foot that makes operating the pedals difficult.

What Types Of Vehicle Can Be Fitted With Hand Controls?

Any type of vehicle can be fitted with hand controls. Anything ranging from a large truck or SUV to a small sports car can be driven using hand controls. Even Harley Davidson motorcycles can be fitted with them!

What Types Of Hand Controls Are Available?

Hand controls enable a driver to operate the gas and brake pedals (and the clutch in manual vehicles) with their hands using levers or buttons on or near the steering wheel.

The most common types of hand controls are:

  • Push/pull accelerator/brake devices
  • Over-ring push accelerator
  • Ghost under-wheel accelerator
  • Brake levers
  • Trigger operated accelerator/brake devices
  • Stick-steer steering devices with secondary controls
  • Various remote control devices that mount on a steering wheel and operate vehicle controls
  • Floor-mount mechanical accelerator/brake levers
  • Steering wheel extension
  • Steering wheel-mounted steering ball

How Much Does It Cost To Put Hand Controls In A Car?

The cost of putting hand controls in a car varies a lot depending on what type of hand controls you choose. At the top end, digital accelerator rings can start at $12,000. Various push/pull devices cost between $1,000–$6,000. Steering wheel extensions and steering wheel mounted steering balls can cost as little as $50.

Does Medicare Pay For Automobile Hand Controls?

Medicare may cover the cost of automobile hand controls if they are deemed to be “durable medical equipment”. You may have your costs covered if hand controls are deemed medically necessary by your physician.

Dr Handicap - car controls
Image by lukpixaby on Pixabay: Hand controls can be fitted on any car.

Can You Qualify For A Disabled Parking Permit If You Use Hand Controls?

Any driver who needs to use hand controls because they have a disability that prevents them from being able to use their feet and legs to operate pedals will qualify for a disabled parking permit.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A Disabled Parking Permit?

The qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit include two broad categories that almost always apply to people who cannot use their legs or feet to drive:

  • Any person who cannot walk 200 ft without needing to stop to rest
  • Any person who cannot walk without the aid of an assistive device such as a crutch, cane, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or another person

How Do I Apply For A Disabled Parking Permit?

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a disabled parking permit is to arrange an online consultation with a medical professional through Dr. Handicap. The examining medical professional will verify your disability and fill in the relevant sections of a disabled parking permit application form, which you can then submit to your local DMV.

Featured image by Skitterphoto on Pixabay

Can Hand Controls Be Fitted To A Manual Car?

Several impressive vehicle adaptations make it possible for people with physical disabilities and mobility issues to drive their own vehicle. Some of these adaptations are simple devices that change the dimensions of a vehicle by bringing foot pedals or the steering wheel closer. Other adaptations are high-tech electronic devices that would have been impossible to imagine only a handful of years ago.

Modern technology has made it easier than ever for people with disabilities to enjoy the freedom and independence that driving provides. New technologies are being developed every year, and vehicle adaptation options for disabled drivers are expanding all the time.

In the United States, most vehicles have automatic transmission. Most Americans believe that an automatic car is easier to drive. Today, even most newer model semi trucks, which traditionally tended to have manual gears, are fitted with automatic transmission. However, many older vehicles still have manual transmission, and a number of drivers still prefer the experience of driving a stick-shift vehicle.

Hand controls are the most common form of vehicle adaptation for disabled drivers. So what are the hand control options for manual vehicles? Can hand controls be fitted to a manual car? How much do hand controls for manual vehicles cost? How do you drive a manual hand drive car? Let’s investigate.

Dr Handicap - wheelchair
Image by stevepb on Pixabay: Hand controls are for people who do not have full use of their legs.

Who Are Hand Controls For?

Hand controls are usually used by people who, due to a physical disability, cannot use their legs and feet to operate the pedals in a vehicle.

What Are The Most Common Hand Control Adaptations?

The most common hand control adaptations are:

  • Push/pull hand controls
  • Electronic hand accelerators/brakes (trigger accelerator, over ring accelerator, under ring accelerator, ghost ring accelerator)
  • Remote control device mounted on the steering wheel that operates standard vehicle controls such as headlights, indicators, and wipers
  • Steering wheel extension
  • Steering ball mounted on the steering wheel

How Much Do Hand Controls Cost?

The cost of hand controls varies widely, depending on the type you need. Steering wheel extensions can cost as little as $50, while full electronic hand accelerator/brake systems can cost between $500 and $2000.

Does Using Hand Controls Require Special Training?

It is advisable to get special training when first using most forms of hand controls. For a new driver, or a newly disabled driver, it is best to take lessons with a driving instructor who specializes in disabled driving.

Most densely populated areas of the US have disabled driving schools. You should be able to find a driving school near you with specialist disabled driving instructors, or an independent instructor with expertise in training disabled drivers.

Can Hand Controls Be Fitted To A Manual Car?

Yes, hand controls can absolutely be fitted to a manual car. All of the most common types of hand controls mentioned above can be used on a manual vehicle. In addition, there are several adaptations that allow a disabled driver to operate a manual vehicle’s clutch with their hand.

What Is A Manual Transmission Hand Clutch Conversion?

A manual transmission hand clutch conversion enables a driver to operate the clutch on a manual vehicle with their hand. The two most common types are:

  • An infrared sensor on the gear lever that automatically depresses the clutch when the hand is placed on the gear lever
  • A “duck clutch”, which has a small lever fitted to the gear lever that enables hand control of the clutch
Dr Handicap - manual transmission
Image by RoonZ-nl on Pixabay: Most older vehicles have manual gear systems.

Who Qualifies For A Disabled Parking Permit?

Any person who does not have the ability to use their legs or feet to control a vehicle, and therefore needs to use hand controls, will qualify for a disabled parking permit.

In general, the qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit are:

  • An inability to walk 200 ft without needing to stop to rest
  • An inability to walk without the aid of a crutch, cane, wheelchair, prosthetic device, or another person
  • A heart condition
  • Lung disease
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of a portable oxygen tank
  • Legal blindness
  • Any arthritic, orthopedic, or neurological condition that reduces mobility

What Types Of Disabled Permit Are Available?

The most common types of disabled parking permit available are:

  • Permanent disabled parking placard or license plate
  • Temporary disabled parking placard
  • Disabled Veterans license plate
  • Organizational disabled parking permit

How To Get A Disabled Parking Permit

The quickest way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange an online telemedicine consultation with a licensed medical professional through Dr. Handicap. The medical professional will verify your disability and fill in the relevant sections of a disabled parking application form, which you can then submit to your local DMV. It is a quick and easy process.

Featured image by cocoparisienne on Pixabay

Can Disabled Drivers Drive In HOV (Carpool) Lanes?

A disabled parking permit is a very useful thing to own. Disabled permits enable their holders to park in wheelchair-accessible parking spaces. These spaces exist in every public parking lot in the nation and are located as close as possible to the accessible entrances of the amenities they serve.

Disabled permit holders are entitled to park in any on-street disabled parking spaces. In most jurisdictions, a disabled permit also entitles its holder to park in metered, on-street spaces for free, and often for unlimited time.

Disabled permits are intended to enable people with mobility issues and physical disabilities to get around more easily and live life on their own terms. But does a disabled parking permit entitle its holder to drive in HOV lanes?

Dr Handicap - highway lanes
Image by Sandy Manoa on Unsplash: Can disabled drivers drive in HOV (carpool) lanes?

What Is A HOV Lane?

A HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane is reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person. Buses and private vehicles that are carrying several people can use HOV lanes. HOV lanes are intended to encourage people to travel in groups, which is better for the environment and helps to keep roads clearer and less congested.

How Can You Recognize A HOV Lane?

HOV lanes are usually the left-most lane on a road. They are marked with a distinctive diamond logo. This diamond logo will usually be on signposts and painted at intervals on the tarmac.

What Is The Difference Between HOV And Carpool?

There is no difference between HOV and carpool. HOV means “high occupancy vehicle”, and carpool is simply another word for the same thing.

Why Is Using The HOV Lane Such An Advantage?

Using the HOV lane is a big advantage because it is almost always much emptier of traffic than regular lanes. This means driving in the HOV lane can make your journey time a lot shorter. Using the HOV lane is less stressful and makes journeys quicker. Even when a highway is very congested, the HOV lane will usually be moving freely.

Using the HOV lane is also much better for the environment because it means that more people are traveling but less vehicles are being used.

How Do You Qualify For The Carpool Lane?

In some states you need to apply for a carpool lane sticker to use the HOV lane. In other states carpool lanes are monitored by cameras that check each vehicle to make sure it has enough passengers to legally use the lane.

Who Can Use The HOV Lane?

In most states, the following vehicles may use HOV lanes:

  • Vehicles with two or more persons
  • Buses
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Alternative fuel vehicles (such as electric cars)
Dr Handicap - public transit
Image by Free-photos on Pixabay: Buses can travel in carpool lanes.

What Are The HOV Lane Rules?

Only qualifying vehicles may use the HOV lane. Illegal use of the HOV lane is a misdemeanor offense and is punishable with a fine and possible legal fees. Subsequent offenses will result in bigger fines and points on the offending driver’s record.

Can Disabled Drivers Drive In HOV Lanes?

A disabled parking permit, in and of itself, does not entitle its holder to drive in the HOV lane. In most areas, the only way a disabled driver can use the HOV lane is if they are driving a qualifying vehicle or if they have two or more people traveling in their vehicle.

However, in certain jurisdictions where it is possible for solo drivers to pay a toll to access the HOV lane – Houston, Texas, for example – disabled veterans can use the lanes without paying the toll.

What Is A Disabled Parking Permit?

A disabled parking permit is a document issued by the DMV that enables its holder to avail of the disabled parking infrastructure in their home state. Disabled parking permits from each state are also recognized in all other US states, as well as many other countries such as Canada, Mexico, the UK, Japan, and all EU countries.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A Disabled Parking Permit?

The qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit vary slightly state by state. However, the main list of conditions that forms the foundation for all states is:

  • Not being able to walk 200 ft without needing to stop to rest.
  • Not being able to walk without the aid of an assistive device.
  • Being legally blind.
  • Having a cardiovascular condition.
  • Lung disease.
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of a portable oxygen tank.
  • A neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic condition.

How Do You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

The best way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange an online consultation with a medical professional through Dr. Handicap.

Featured image by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Traveling Over The Festive Season? Here Are 12 Safety Tips For Disabled Drivers

What precautions should be taken while driving during the holidays? How do you prepare for winter driving? What are the most important holiday driving safety tips? These are important questions every driver needs to consider before traveling over the festive season.

Most holiday driving safety tips are obvious and should be familiar to all drivers. However, other considerations can often be overlooked. It is crucial that you follow good holiday travel safety advice when driving in December. Knowing how to drive safely on winter roads will mean you and your loved ones stay safe while traveling these holidays.

Driving on winter roads during the festive season is often hazardous. The weather is usually cold and snow and ice can make roads slippery. Disabled drivers need to take extra care when traveling by road over the holidays; if you have a disability, you may need to consider additional precautions, like packing extra safety equipment and medication.

Dr Handicap - winter roads
Image by egorshitikov on Pixabay: Icy roads can be a hazard when driving over the festive season.

Let’s dive into 12 important festive season safety tips for disabled drivers.

1. Make Sure Your Vehicle Has All Necessary Adaptations

Disabled driver vehicle adaptations come in many forms, all of which make it possible for people with disabilities to drive their own vehicle safely and comfortably. When you are driving this festive season, make sure that your vehicle is kitted out with any and all of the vehicle adaptations that you need.

Some of the most popular vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers are:

  • Hand controls
  • Pedal and steering wheel extensions
  • Wheelchair lifts and ramps
  • Transfer seats
  • Reduced effort braking systems
  • Left foot accelerators

2. Make Sure Your Vehicle Is In Tip-Top Condition

Before you travel, make sure your vehicle is in perfect condition. Check that:

  • All lights are working
  • Tires are in good condition and fully pumped up
  • Fluid levels are where they should be
  • There are no leaks under the vehicle
  • Wipers are working
  • Warning lights are working
  • Your car battery is healthy

3. Know What Traffic Conditions Will Be Like On Your Journey

Take traffic conditions into account when planning your journey. If you can travel during periods when roads are less busy, and less treacherous, try to do so. It will make your journey quicker and safer.

4. Keep Informed About The Weather

Make sure to keep up to date on weather conditions on your route. Ice, snow, wind, rain, hail, and storms can all make driving more dangerous. Try to avoid traveling during extreme weather conditions.

5. Pack Any Medication You May Need

Always remember to pack any medication you may need on your journey. It is a good idea to bring more medication than you intend to take in case you get delayed or stranded. Make sure there is easy-to-see identification on your medication, as well as any allergies advice, in case you get involved in an accident and are unable to communicate with first responders.

6. Have All Necessary Safety Equipment In Your Vehicle

You should have all of the following safety equipment with you in your vehicle when you travel:

  • First aid kit
  • Drinking water
  • Spare medication
  • Cell phone and car mobile phone charger
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Reflective triangles and a reflective vest
  • Spare tire, tripod jack, wheel wrench
  • Tool kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Duct tape
  • Snow shovel, snow brush, cat litter for traction
  • Windshield washer fluid

7. Stay COVID-Safe

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to stay COVID-safe, particularly throughout the holidays. This may mean bringing additional hygiene and safety products with you when you travel this festive season. At a minimum, make sure you have the following:

  • Face masks and/or face shields
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubber gloves
Dr Handicap - holiday travel
Image by Hans on Pixabay: Always check what weather conditions will be like when you travel over the holidays.

8. Practice Defensive Driving

Always drive like your life depends on it… because it does. Some of the most important core tenets of safe defensive driving are:

  • Have SAFETY as a first priority.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t rely on good driving from other road users.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Drive within the speed limit.

9. Avoid Distractions While Driving

This should be a no-brainer. But unfortunately, it is still all too common to see people not paying proper attention when driving. Using a mobile device, playing with the stereo system, chatting to other people in the vehicle… It is easy to get distracted when driving, especially when on a long journey. But it’s vital to avoid distractions, because it only takes a split second to lose control of your vehicle.

10. Stay Alert And Wide Awake While Driving

When driving on long journeys, it is easy to get sleepy. But drowsy driving is extremely dangerous. Make sure you are wide awake and alert while driving. If you feel even remotely sleepy, pull over and rest, get some fresh air, or get a coffee. Do whatever you need to do to stay wide awake while driving.

11. Never Drive Under The Influence

This one should also be completely obvious, but it is so important that it needs to be said: NEVER drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes any legal drugs or medications that may make you drowsy or compromise your ability to be fully alert and capable of driving safely.

12. Don’t Forget Your Disabled Parking Placard

Finally, always remember to bring your disabled parking placard with you when you travel. Disabled parking permits from all US states are valid in every other US state (as well as several other countries, including Mexico, Canada, the UK, and the EU). So wherever you’re traveling this festive season, you will most likely be able to use your disabled parking placard when you’re there.

Featured image by Taras Zaluzhnyi on Unsplash