From hand controls to steering aids, there are a wide range of driving aids, accessories and tools that giving them the ability and freedom to drive as effectively and efficiently as any other driver.
At the Phoenix Mazda dealership we were explained that the choice of a particular driving aid or a set of driving aids depends on the specific type of disability the driver is coping with including the strength of the body part that would be used to operate the equipment, the dexterity with which the person is able to operate that part, the angle and range within which the part is operable and so on.
Training and Test
Before we dive into the various options that can aid in your driving, it would be good to mention that most or almost all of the following requires drivers to undergo and pass a short training session on how to use the special equipment. This is to ensure road safety and safety for the drivers who use such equipment. Safety comes first.
The first and foremost solution to driving aids becomes the seating. Seating is very important as it should give one the ability to get into and off the vehicle independently or with minimal assistance. Two of the most common solutions are wheelchair seating and swivel seats. Wheelchair seating allows one to board or alight the vehicle using a specially powered lever or cord coming from the vehicle that is attached to the wheelchair to assist pulling the wheelchair into the vehicle using a collapsible ramp. Swivel seats with lift jacks on the other hand extend out from the vehicle and lower to the ground to allow the person to transfer from the wheel chair to the seat.
There are a variety of hand controls that are made to assist in ones driving that include mechanical and electronic hand controls and levers. The most common types of hand controls involve providing a lever or mechanism that allow the driver to control the brake or accelerator or both without the need to use one’s legs. More advanced equipment allows for usage of just a shoulder or even an elbow to control the specific functions. Apart from braking and acceleration, there are a variety of steering mounted controls such as knobs and handles that make it easier for persons with disabilities to operate. Joystick control is now gaining lots of popularity because of its ease of use.
The Phoenix Mazda experts showed us that there are a variety of pedal devices that come to the rescue with one of the simplest of innovations being the Left-Foot-Accelerator which is basically an apparatus that consists of two carefully assembled pedals connected using a rod. One pedal rests on the accelerator and the other can be depressed as required using the left-foot to throttle the accelerator. Adaptive pedal extensions are the most common foot controls available to assist the disabled providing easy access to the floor pedals.
Each individual’s needs and abilities are different, hence, driving aids are often customized to suit the specific needs of the drivers based on the level of disability.