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What Are The Best Car Modifications For Drivers With Limited Hand And Arm Movement?

People who have limited use of their hands and arms have difficulties in many areas of life. But driving your own vehicle doesn’t have to be one of them, especially when vehicles can be modified to suit disabled drivers’ needs.

In the instance where someone cannot drive a car without modifications, there are several simple changes they can make to give them access to freedom and the open road.

Is it a law to drive with two hands?

When a person is first learning to drive, they’re usually told that both hands should be on the wheel at all times. Perhaps your instructor told you that your hands belong at 10 and 2, or 3 and 9. Where a person places their hands on the wheel will vary depending on who taught them to drive – but there is no actual law to back up these lessons.

When a person is operating a motor vehicle, it is safety and focus that benefits the most from having both hands on the wheel. How many hands are on the wheel, or the exact position they’re in, is not a legal issue, but rather one that’s designed to teach people how to handle a vehicle when they are first learning.

Dr Handicap - driving with one hand
Image by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash: Can you drive an automatic car with one arm?

Can you drive an automatic car with one arm?

Driving a car with one arm may be difficult, but it is not impossible. A manually driven vehicle does require the use of two arms, because the gearstick needs to be constantly moved. This type of vehicle cannot be operated by a person with only one arm.

A vehicle with automatic transmission is a different story. This is because there is no gearstick that needs to be moved while driving. A person with one arm can navigate the roads with ease using one hand. They may want to opt for a wheel spinner to use with their arm for better control and access to some controls.

Car modifications for amputees

There are several modifications that can be made to a personal vehicle if its driver has lost the use of one or more of their limbs. These modifications make driving accessible and safe. Many vehicles now come equipped with some of the features that would have been considered modifications in older model cars. Things such as power steering and power brakes can be found in most off-the-line vehicles, so these modifications won’t likely need to be added to a vehicle you’re purchasing.

A pedal extension can be a great tool for those with an amputated leg. It allows the driver to control the brakes with reduced effort and to sit comfortably while driving. A left-foot accelerator is another great tool for leg amputees, because it puts the accelerator pedal on both sides of the brake.

Extended arm indicators can help those with arm amputations by offering an extension to controls such as turn signals and windshield wipers. That way, the driver has easy access to all the controls they need while driving.

Swivel seats can also be a great help when getting in and out of the car for someone who uses a wheelchair. In vehicles that are high off the ground, a Turny orbit will be used as a swivel seat to have the same effect. Another great modification for those who use a wheelchair is a full or half-dropped lowered floor. This gives those with wheelchairs easy access to driving as well as storage of their chair while getting from point A to point B. A wheelchair ramp can also be installed in many vans to assist the driver getting in and out of the vehicle.

Dr Handicap - disabled signage
Image by Marianne Bos on Unsplash: What are the best modifications for drivers with limited hand and arm movement?

How much does it cost to convert a car to hand controls?

Hand controls help those without access to foot pedals to drive using only their hands. The cost to convert a car to hand controls can vary depending on the disability and the vehicle in question. Specific car models may also play a role in how much it will cost to modify the car with hand controls. The car in question must also have power brakes, power steering, and an automatic transmission in order to be modified with hand controls.

As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1600 to have your car equipped with hand controls. Considering the freedom it provides to those with amputations or no use of their legs, it’s an affordable modification that’s worth every penny.

Driving with limited hand or arm movement can be difficult to master, but with the right tools and modifications, it doesn’t have to be. These changes are generally inexpensive and well worth the cost to be able to drive freely. 

Featured image by Andy Art on Unsplash

Amputee Ring, Spinner Knob & Quad Fork: Everything You Need To Know About Adaptive Driving Aids

Being able to drive gives you freedom and enables you to go where you want, when you want. Owning your own vehicle opens up the world and allows you to live on your own terms.

Having a disability certainly does not have to prevent you living a life of freedom. Those of us with limited mobility can still enjoy the independence and increased options that driving brings.

It’s true that having certain types of disability can make driving a vehicle with standard controls difficult or impossible. But thankfully, modern technology has come to the rescue to solve many of the problems of driving with a disability.

There are lots of different types of adaptive vehicles and vehicle modifications that can make driving with a disability easy. Adaptive driving equipment makes it possible for people with a wide range of physical disabilities to drive their own vehicle and enjoy the benefits of vehicle ownership.

Technology is always evolving, so people tend to have a lot of questions about adaptive driving and adaptive driving aids… What is an adaptive vehicle? What types of adaptive driving equipment are available? What are hand controls for cars? How does adaptive driving equipment installation work?

Read on for everything you need to know about adaptive driving aids.

Dr Handicap - adaptive vehicle
Image by freestocks-photos on Pixabay: Adaptive driving aids give their users increased freedom.

What Is An Adaptive Vehicle?

An adaptive vehicle is a vehicle that has been altered in some way to enable it to be driven by a person with a physical disability. Almost any type of vehicle can be adapted, but the most common types of adapted vehicles are cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles, and scooters.

What Is Adaptive Driving Equipment?

Adaptive driving equipment comes in many different forms. Adaptive driving equipment is any piece of equipment added to a vehicle to make it drivable by a person with a physical disability.

How Does Adaptive Driving Equipment Installation Work?

Adaptive driving equipment installation works in three main ways. It can be installed while the vehicle is being built; added to an existing vehicle by a specialist mechanic; or, if it is a simpler piece of equipment, installed by the vehicle owner themselves.

What Are Adaptive Driving Aids?

Adaptive driving aids are pieces of equipment, gadgets, or vehicle modifications that make it easier for a person with limited mobility to operate a vehicle.

How Do Adaptive Driving Aids Help Disabled Drivers?

Adaptive driving aids help disabled drivers in numerous ways. The most common ways include:

  • Making the entire vehicle operable with hands only
  • Ensuring less force is required to operate the vehicle
  • Changing the dimensions of the vehicle to make it easier to operate

How Do You Get Adaptive Driving Aids?

You can purchase adaptive driving aids and have them installed in your vehicle, or you can buy vehicles with driving aids already installed.

How Much Do Adaptive Driving Aids Cost?

The cost of adaptive driving aids varies massively depending on what type you require. Digital accelerator rings often start at $12,000, and push/pull accelerator/brake devices cost between $1,000–$6,000, whereas amputee rings and spinner knobs can be as cheap as $100.

Does Medicare Pay For Adaptive Driving Aids?

Medicare will usually cover the cost of adaptive driving aids if they are deemed to be necessary “durable medical equipment”.

Dr Handicap - disabled drivers
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: Adaptive driving aids open up the world to disabled drivers.

What Are The Most Common Adaptive Driving Aids?

Amputee Ring

An amputee ring is a small steel ring that attaches to the steering wheel to enable an amputee to maneuver the wheel.

Spinner Knob

A spinner knob is a knob that attaches to the steering wheel to make it easier to turn the wheel. It also makes it possible to turn the wheel with one hand.

Quad Fork

A quad fork is a device that attaches to the steering wheel and makes it easier for a person with reduced hand strength, or somebody who can only use one hand, to control the steering wheel.

Hand Controls For Cars

Hand controls allow you to operate the gas, brake, and clutch pedals with your hands instead of your feet.

The most common hand controls are:

  • Steering wheel-mounted remote-control devices that operate vehicle controls
  • Push/pull accelerator/brake devices
  • Over-ring and ghost under-wheel accelerators
  • Brake levers
  • Trigger operated accelerator/brake devices
  • Stick-steer steering devices with secondary controls
  • Floor-mount mechanical accelerator/brake levers

How To Get A Disabled Parking Permit

If you drive an adaptive vehicle and you have not yet gotten a disabled parking permit, now is the time to take action. The disabled parking permit application process couldn’t be easier. The best way to get the ball rolling is to set up an online consultation with a medical professional through Dr. Handicap.

Featured image by Patrik Ferro on Unsplash