man on wheelchair entering car

Driving with limited mobility can require a few adaptations, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible or too hard. With a little education and the many different driving aids that are currently on the market, people with mobility issues have it easier than ever when it comes to adjusting their cars in a way that allows them to continue enjoying their independence behind the wheel. They can even purchase a fully adapted wheelchair vehicle that lets them drive without leaving their wheelchair.

Driving Aids And Modifications

Driving adaptations are one of the main things that make driving with limited mobility possible. These types of aids can be installed in your existing vehicle in order to adapt it to your specific needs.  

While most driving controls will require an automatic gearbox, they can be put in without removing the original controls of a vehicle, so nominated drivers can still keep using it. Although, in some cases these mobility modifications will vary from simple attachments to replacing all existing controls with a system that’s individually designed for the person with limited mobility to use.

As a general rule, in order for a vehicle to be used by a person with limited mobility, it should include power steering, locks, seats and window features in order to facilitate the process.

There’s currently a myriad of modifications and aids available on the market for people that want to continue driving with limited mobility, starting with hand controls, steering aids, electronic accelerators and more.

Hand Controls

Hand controls are mainly installed in order to help people with limited mobility drive without using standard pedals for braking or acceleration, as these can be difficult or impossible to handle. Installing these mobility aids will allow you to control the speed of your vehicle using your hands to push or pull a lever that either accelerates or brakes the car.

Steering Aids

For drivers with limited upper body strength or dexterity, the installment of a steering aid can help make piloting the vehicle both easier and safer. Adaptations, such as a deep-dish steering wheel that brings the steering wheel a few inches closer to the driver, can be installed along with a low-effort steering system, providing wheelchair users greater accessibility to the steering wheel and less range of steering motion requirements.

Drivers with limited upper body mobility will also find foot steering controls to be lifesavers, as they allow them to operate the vehicle using their feet instead of their hands, whereas a one hand drive control system will help people with limited use of their lower extremities but proper strength in at least one of their arms and hands to steer, brake and control their vehicle through the use of a knob.

Electronic Accelerators

Driving with limited mobility in your legs can be a tough, so electronic accelerators are there to help with the task, allowing you to accelerate and brake the vehicle using your hands.

A trigger accelerator, for example, will only require the pull of a trigger with your finger, while an over or under ring accelerator can be fitted comfortably in front or behind your steering wheel, along with a hand operated brake so that you can pull them whenever you need to accelerate the vehicle.

Pedal Modifications

If you’re having trouble reaching or using your pedals due to leg mobility issues, you could either opt for the pedals to be extended so that they’re closer to your driving seat, or in the case of limited mobility in your right leg, a left foot accelerator can be fitted.

Mobility Aids For Easier Access

For people using a wheelchair, getting in and out of their car independently can be done with the installment of different modifications, such as a transfer plate, which can be fitted to the side of the car seat to help with the transfer from your chair to the driver’s seat, while an electric person hoist will physically lift you into the car, good alternatives to a fully converted wheelchair vehicle, letting you sit on the original car seat instead of on your wheelchair as you’re driving.

Fully Converted Wheelchair Vans And Vehicles

Every driver has their unique needs, and in the case of driving with limited mobility, these need to be specially taken into account in order to ensure a safe and comfortable driving experience. While vehicle modifications, such as the ones we mentioned before, can be a great place to start, an option many people go for is a fully converted wheelchair van, car or SUV.

Although modifications can vary depending on the particular mobility problem, there are many fully adapted vehicles on the market capable of fitting a wheelchair user comfortably in the driver’s seat, while including lifts and ramp mechanisms to get in and out of the vehicle, along with hand controls and any other necessary driving aid.

Acquiring a fully modified wheelchair vehicle will be more comfortable to people who prefer to travel in their own wheelchair, without needing to transfer in and out of it or stow it.

These types of vehicles come fully equipped with all of the adjustments necessary for a person with limited mobility to drive them, providing features, such as the ones we named before, along with keyless entry, parallel parking assistance, adjustable steering wheels and more, making them particularly useful for senior drivers or drivers with disabilities to enjoy.

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