If you have a physical impairment and you want to try driving with a different method of vehicle control, you will be given the opportunity to drive vehicles fitted with adaptations.
We have several vehicles fitted with different adaptations and it might be appropriate for you to try driving more than one vehicle.
Watch the videos below to see the available adaptations and how they work
Easy Gear Selector/Easy Handbrake Release
If you find moving an automatic gear selector or using a handbrake lever troublesome, these adaptations can help you. Each device lessens the amount of physical effort and co-ordination required to operate the control and is especially suitable for drivers with reduced strength, range of movement, or dexterity in their left arm or hand. Drivers with arthritic fingers, or living with the after effects of a stroke may find these adaptations especially convenient.
There are various types of hand controls available for drivers who are unable to use conventional pedals. If your vehicle is fitted with hand controls it can usually also be driven using the pedals, for example if another driver wishes to drive it.
The most common control system is to use a ‘push/pull’ lever for the brake/accelerator, and a ‘ball’ or ‘spinner’ type steering aid attached to the steering wheel. The push/pull lever is usually mounted on the right-hand side with the steering ball affixed in the 10 o’clock position on the wheel. The driver uses his/her left arm for steering and the right arm for controlling the speed of the vehicle by pushing the lever forward to deploy the brake or pulling it back to operate the accelerator. The lever will spring back to the centre position if pressure is released. Some drivers use this control system with the lever mounted on the left-hand side and the steering aid mounted at 2 o’clock. This is less common, but could be an option if you are unable to use the more common layout. A toggle switch is often located on the top of the lever to control the direction indicators, as using a conventional indicator stalk can be troublesome when the left hand is required for steering. A metal plate (pedal guard) can be fitted in front of the pedals to prevent the driver’s feet from accidentally pressing, or getting trapped under, the pedals.
A variation of the brake/accelerator lever is the ‘trigger throttle’. The brake is deployed by pushing the whole lever forwards against the spring, and the accelerator is operated by pulling the trigger mechanism either with the thumb or a finger.
Other types of hand controls include over-ring and under-ring accelerators. An over-ring sits approximately half an inch to an inch above the steering wheel, and the driver operates the accelerator by depressing the ring towards the rim of the wheel (either with the thumbs or with the palm of the hand). An under-ring operates in the same way, but sits behind the steering wheel and is operated by the driver’s fingers squeezing the control towards the rim of the steering wheel. Over- and under-rings can be used in conjunction with either a brake lever (usually on the right but can be mounted on either side), or the conventional brake pedal. These types of adaptation can be suitable for drivers with limited strength or range of movement in their arms, or drivers who experience difficulty using a push/pull lever and steering ball. Usually, a car fitted with hand controls can also be driven conventionally, for example, if another driver wishes to drive the vehicle.
Remote Keypad Controls
If you have functional use of only one arm, a remote keypad attached to a steering aid enables you to steer and operate the auxiliary controls, such as the indicators and wipers, with one hand
There are various shapes and sizes of keypad available. The control can be mounted on either the left or the right side of the steering wheel, and can also easily be removed and switched off when not in use, for example if someone else wishes to drive the vehicle. This adaptation is very popular among drivers who have experienced a stroke and are left with reduced functionality on one side, and is often used in conjunction with a left foot accelerator pedal.
Wheelchair and Scooter Hoists
Hoists come in various shapes and sizes, and can be used to load or unload a wheelchair or mobility scooter into and out of a vehicle. Wheelchairs can be stowed inside the vehicle, or in a box which sits on the roof. Not every vehicle is compatible with a hoist. Hoists are often bespoke items and can be very ‘high tech’.
Left Foot Accelerator Pedal
A left foot accelerator pedal (LFA) is a common adaptation for drivers who are unable to operate the accelerator with their right foot. An extra accelerator pedal is fitted to the left side of the brake pedal, in addition to the conventional pedals. The LFA can either be ‘twin flip’ or ‘electronic’. With a twin flip system, either the left or the right accelerator can be folded away when not in use, and the other pedal flipped down ready for driving. An electronic system is usually used in vehicles fitted with floor-hinged (or ‘organ’) pedals. Both accelerators remain in place, and a two-way switch is used to select which pedal becomes active. With either system, it is impossible to use left and right accelerator pedals simultaneously. A vehicle can be driven with the LFA or easily switched back to conventional controls when required, for example if another driver wishes to drive the vehicle. An LFA is often used in conjunction with a left-side mounted steering aid and keypad control by drivers with a weakness on their right side, for example after experiencing a stroke.