November 30, 2018 at 1:00 PM
To help make your driving or travelling experience easier and more comfortable there are a range of vehicle adaptations available from simple driving controls to an electric hoist that can lift a wheelchair user into a car.
There are three main categories of adaptations: Driving, Access and Stowage. We've picked out the most popular in each category.
Whether you need a simple attachment or a system that replaces all the existing controls with a system specifically designed for you, there are a host of driving adaptations to enhance your motoring experience. Typically, the original controls can still be used even with adaptations in place, so you don't limit the use of the vehicle to the disabled driver only.
They can help with basic things such as steering, signalling and speed control which might enable someone to get behind the wheel who otherwise would not be able to.
It's important to note that most driving controls require an automatic gearbox.
If your legs don't work, you don't have any legs or you find it difficult to use standard pedals for braking and acceleration, a hand control system can be used for speed control.
Something similar to a push/pull device will allow you to control how fast the car goes and let you bring it to a nice smooth standstill without the need for pedals. There are a range of options available from a basic mechanical push/pull system to electronic or air compression systems.
If you don't like push/pull hand controls, you could try an electronic accelerator which comes in a number of different types. All versions come with a hand-operated brake:
- Trigger Accelerator - You pull with your finger to accelerate and push away to brake
- Over Ring Accelerator - Fitted in front of the steering wheel, you push it down toward the steering wheel to accelerate
- Under Ring Accelerator - Fitted behind the steering wheel, you pull it towards the steering wheel to accelerate
- Ghost Ring Accelerator - Also fitted behind the steering wheel, you control the speed by using your fingers in side to side movements
Left Foot Accelerators
If you don't want to use hand controls, but have limited mobility in your right leg or no right leg at all, you can have a left foot accelerator fitted. There are two different options available:
- Floor-Mounted Accelerator - A second accelerator pedal is fitted to the left of the brake while a pedal guard is fitted over the original pedal
- Twin-Flip Accelerator - A second accelerator pedal is fitted to the left of the brake. The original pedal folds away. If another person that doesn't need a left foot accelerator drives the car they can flip the original pedal down and fold the left pedal away
Remote Control Devices
Using a single control panel mounted on the steering wheel, you can easily operate standard car controls such as the indicators, headlights and windscreen wipers.
Difficulty holding or turning the steering wheel can easily be fixed by a steering ball which will allow you to have more control when steering the car.
If you opt for hand controls or remote control devices, a steering ball is often essential so that you can steer with one hand and operate the hand controls with the other.
As a wheelchair user or disabled person, getting in and out of vehicles can be a real challenge. Fortunately, there are a host of options to make standard cars more accessible.
Rather than travelling in a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), you might find it more comfortable to be sat in the original car seat next to the driver. The electric hoist is able to physically lift you out of the wheelchair and into the car.
A permanent mount is fitted to the car with three sections that clip together to form the frame which can be removed and stowed in the boot. A specially designed canvas sling with heavy duty hooks is put in position and the hoist is raised electronically.
Unlike the frame, the sling remains in place, making it easier to reverse the process when you've reached your destination.
Implementing a swivel seat makes it easier to get in and out of the vehicle. As you would expect, it turns, but in some cases the seat moves in and out of the car, then lowers or tips. Manual and powered versions are available.
If the gap between your wheelchair and the car seat is too far, a transfer plate can be fitted to the side of the car seat. It folds out and provides a smooth, sturdy surface between the wheelchair and the car.
Once you're in the vehicle, the transfer plate can be folded back up and out of the way. Manual and electric versions are available.
In order for you to be an independent disabled driver, you might need a stowage system that enables you to lift your wheelchair or scooter at the touch of a button.
Car Boot Hoist
This hoist is specifically for your wheelchair or scooter and comes with tie-downs as standard to help secure them in the boot. There are two different versions:
- 4-Way Hoist - Ideal for a scooter or larger wheelchair. It helps to move them up and into the boot, although you will need to guide the scooter or wheelchair by hand
- 2-Way Hoist - Built for lighter wheelchairs, they only come with an up and down action so you need to push the wheelchair into the boot by hand
Using an electric hoist to lift and maneouve your folded manual wheelchair, you can store and transport it in a specialist rooftop box.
It's a perfect solution if you need to use your boot to transport and store other items.