I am often asked how I drive a car. I guess it is easy to assume that if I don’t have use of my legs then I am unable to accelerate, brake and change gear. Having an automatic vehicle solves changing gear. Braking and accelerating are made possible by the installation of a set of hand controls, which allow me to operate the medals with my hands. Hand controls are a set of levers attached to the steering column and the pedals. I push down on the hand controls to brake and pull up to accelerate. To assist with steering I have a ‘steering ball’ attached to the steering wheel that aids enable steering with one hand whilst operating the hand controls.
I transfer from my wheelchair to the driver’s seats by putting my hands on the top of the open door and the top of the car. I grab handle in the car can be useful but our current car does not have one. Once in the car I take the wheels of my wheelchair and put them behind the front seats. I then recline the driver’s seat a little and swing the frame of the wheelchair across my body and place it on the passengers’ seat. For safety, I use the safety belt in the wheelchair.
This is how I transfer and drive. Almost any vehicle can be adapted and other people will have different solutions to enable them to drive.
Modifications that can be made to a car include:
- hand controls for braking and accelerating
- steering aids
- clutch conversions
- seat belt modifications or harnesses
- special seating
- wheelchair stowage equipment
In the UK the ‘Motability Scheme’ provides an affordable way for disabled people to lease a car: https://www.motability.co.uk
Mobility is important as it provides independence and gives disabled people the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities.
I hope you’ve found this article useful, it would be great to know if you have any different methods to drive. If you do, please leave a comment below!