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Last updateSun, 06 Nov 2016 10am

Back You are here: Home Motoring Motoring Adapting a Car Car Adaptations

Car Adaptations

Fitting Hand Controls

If you are having your vehicle fitted with hand controls to operate the accelerator and brake it is vitally important to have them made and fitted professionally for safety reasons. You may be relying on them totally for braking. Your life, and the lives of other road users, may depend on it.

Fitting hand controls is a highly skilled job in relation to the bodywork of the vehicle. Unless this is undertaken by an expert, the bodywork could be damaged and, for example, rust proofing warranties could be invalid or serious structural weakening or damage could be caused.

It is also essential to have your hand controls, and other adaptive driving equipment, regularly maintained and serviced. These are not checked as part of an NCT test, so it is up to you to take the vehicle to the adaptation firm and have them service the equipment on a regular basis. You may be putting your life and the lives of other road users at risk if you do not check for stretched cables, loose connections, worn bearings or other faults.

Push-Pull Hand Controls

Hand controls are usually located to the right of the steering column, which brings the function of accelerating and braking up to your hand. This can be a fixed-level operated by push-pull or by moving up or down, or can be located so that the function can be a lateral or horizontal movement. You can also have a motorised 'assist' fitted to make the operation of accelerating and braking more easy, for example if your disability means you have a weakness in your arms. Several types of grip are also available for the lever, such as a palm grip, pronged grip, or a tripod-type grip for someone who has little or no palm or finger grip.

Steering Spinners

Steering spinners, or steering knobs, allow you to steer the car using only one hand and can be used in conjunction with hand controls.

Pedal Guards

If you have a car fitted with hand controls, you may also need to have a pedal guard fitted. A pedal guard covers the foot pedals and can be an additional safety feature for anyone whose legs or feet may go into involuntary spasm or who has limited or spasmodic control over, or feeling in, their lower limbs (including those who use artificial limbs). If this is the case, it is easy for the foot to knock against or press onto the foot pedals which could lead to an accident. It is also possible for the foot to get jammed under the foot pedals. If this happens the hand controls cannot be used and an accident could be caused. Pedal guards are easily fitted and can be removed when the car is being driven using the standard foot pedals.

Infra-Red Secondary Control Systems

This system allows several electrical secondary functions to be operated by an infrared control, similar to the type of control used on most modern televisions. Functions such as the indicators, wipers/washer, lights, horn and heater controls can be converted to this control.

Electric Clutch Systems

This system enables the function of the clutch to be operated by a switch, often a touch sensitive switch located on the gear stick. This means the clutch can be controlled entirely by your hands.

Left-Side Accelerator Change-Over System

This adaptation allows the function of the accelerator to be operated by the left foot. It 're-locates' the accelerator pedal to the left of the brake pedal when being driven by someone who can only use their left foot. The system also allows the vehicle to be easily changed back when the car is being used by someone using their right foot, such as another family member, friend, or a garage mechanic who occasionally needs to drive your vehicle for services and repairs. This system is only suitable when driving a car with automatic transmission.

Swivel Seats

A swivel seat is a driver or passenger seat that can be swivelled out to allow easier access and egress into and out of a vehicle. Some of these seats also allow for the chair to move forward, further out of the car, making it easier when transferring onto it from a wheelchair.

Personal Vehicle Hoists

Some people who have difficulty transferring, or lifting themselves out of their wheelchair may need to use a personal hoist. These can be similar to those used in a residential setting and wheeled out to a car from your house as and when needed. Others are attached to the car, usually in the footwell at the passengers side of the car. Typically, the mechanics are then removed after use and stored in the boot.

Roof Top Wheelchair Stowage Units

Many people have difficulty in stowing their wheelchair in the boot or rear of their car and often have to rely on a wheelchair stowage unit, either located on the roof of a car or, if a carer is always available, fitted at the back of the vehicle. This device allows a wheelchair user to transfer into the driver's seat, fold the chair (provided they use a folding wheelchair) and, using a series of buttons, bring down a mechanic/electrical hoist that will then lift the wheelchair up, into a roof box. These are almost always sealed and weatherproof.

Special Seats for Children with Disabilities or People with Restricted Growth

Many people who are of small stature or who have restricted growth, need a cushion to lift them up to a more comfortable and safe driving position. Special seats or booster cushions can be added to an existing car seat to facilitate this and can usually be easily secured using the car's seat belt system.

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