Automobile Adaptations for Wheelchair-bound Drivers

Wheelchair users can drive, but not all cars are accessible. Fortunately, there are automobile adaptations that make driving easier for people in wheelchairs by reducing the physical strain and risks of using a standard car. For those with limited mobility, driving is a great way to regain some freedom and social interaction. Driving also provides an affordable alternative to taxis or public transportation. However, many stock cars are not equipped for drivers confined to their wheelchairs. There are several automotive adaptations available. Here is a look at how you can drive a car when you’re confined to your wheelchair:

Table of Contents

Steering Wheels

The first step to driving when you’re confined to a wheelchair is installing a modified steering wheel on your car. A larger wheel makes it easier to turn the wheel in your lap. There are also devices called “rattlesnake hooks” that can help you turn the wheel in your lap. Wheel adapters are available if you have a sports car, vintage car, or another specialised vehicle. Wheel adapters are typically made of plastic and can be bolted to the existing steering wheel.

Hand Controls

Hand controls are another essential car modification for wheelchair users. These allow you to operate the gas and break from a sitting position. There are three main methods for controlling a car when you’re confined to a wheelchair: Throttle and brake pedals – This method uses two pedals that can be controlled by the feet, knees, or thighs to apply the gas and brake. Shoulder-operated controls – This method uses a bar mounted on the steering wheel to control the gas and brake. Twist-grip controls – This method uses a plastic wheel to control the gas and brake. Each of these methods has its advantages, so it is best to try out all three before deciding which one to use.

Bigger Mirrors

Another car modification for wheelchair drivers is to install larger rear-view mirrors. Standard mirrors can be difficult to see out of when you’re seated in a wheelchair because they are mounted too close to the steering wheel. Bigger mirrors make it easier to see what’s behind the car. Mirror extenders are extensions that can be glued to the existing mirrors to make them larger. Some models can also be adjusted to change the angle of the mirror. Mirror extensions are another option. These are mounted on a pole, above the existing mirror. Mirror extensions for cars aren’t common, but there are a few models available. Tilting mirrors are another modification for wheelchair drivers. This is a great option if you’re renting a car because you can easily remove and replace the larger mirrors when necessary.

Lifts

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If you’re interested in buying a used car, make sure it has a lift. A lift is a mechanism designed to lower the car off the ground so that a person in a wheelchair can drive. There are three types of vehicle lifts: Gendron lift – This lift is bolted to the frame of the car or truck and uses hydraulics to lower the vehicle. Hook-lift – This lift is bolted to the frame of the car or truck and uses a winch to raise and lower the vehicle. Jack-lift – This lift uses the car’s hydraulic jacking system to lower the vehicle. Each of these vehicle lifts is designed to be completely hands-off, so you can drive the car without having to get out. This is a great option for people who commute to work, as it makes it possible to drive without assistance.

 

Parking Sensors

While parking sensors aren’t a necessary car modification for wheelchair users, they’re a great option for people who drive in crowded lots. Parking sensors make it easier to position your car by providing a sound or visual indicator when you’re in the correct spot. The sensors can be mounted on the bottom of the car, below the bumper, or on the rear bumper. Parking sensors can be wired or wireless. Wired sensors plug into the car’s electrical system, while wireless sensors are powered by batteries. Parking sensors can be docked with an app on your phone — this makes it easier to position the car in the correct spot.

Conclusion

Driving when you’re confined to a wheelchair is a great way to regain some freedom and social interaction. It’s also an affordable alternative to taxis or public transportation. There are several automotive adaptations available. Start with a larger steering wheel and hand controls so you can drive your car in a sitting position without straining your body. Remember that each person’s unique needs will be different based on their health condition. You must select the right car modifications for your specific needs.

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