Hand controls for driving

Advances in Hand Controls for Driving Adaptable Vehicles

The development of handicap hand controls for driving has opened new opportunities for special needs drivers with physical limitations. Let’s take a closer look at this adaptable mobility phenomenon — how it’s taken advantage of new technologies and what the future might hold for hand controls for cars.

Adapting the traditional steering wheel to drivers with disabilities has taken researchers on some fairly ingenious routes of development. From rotating knobs to grip extensions to braking and acceleration, handicap hand controls for driving are improving both accessibility and control. As we come closer to the dawn of the self-driving vehicle age, here are some of the most recent advancements in handicap hand controls.

Handicap hand controls

Handicap hand controls come in four basic configurations.

Common types of hand controls for driving

Handicap hand controls move operation of the vehicle — propulsion and braking — from the traditional foot pedals to levers situated by the steering wheel. They’re commonly used by individuals with disabilities or injuries that limit the movement of their lower bodies.

There are four primary types of hand controls for car operation:

Push rock. This system features a vertical operating handle — pull back on the handle to accelerate and push forward to decelerate

Right angle. This system functions by pulling downward towards the lap at a right angle to accelerate and pushing forward to decelerate

Push pull. This system operates by pulling up to accelerate and pushing down towards the floor to decelerate

Right hand. This system switches operations from the left side of the wheel to the right — pulling to accelerate and pushing forward to decelerate

If you’re considering adding these adaptable mobility devices to your next vehicle, some of the more popular brands include QuicStick, Freedom Staff, MPS, MPD, Veigel, Wells-Enberg, Menox, and Sure-Grip hand controls.

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Hand controls installation considerations

The process of hand controls installation is the second most important element of the adaptation behind selection. The U.S. National HIghway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) establishes strict processes and controls for hand controls installation that ensure safety and reliability.

Driver fatigue is a primary consideration. To help reduce the stress on disabled drivers, the hand control mechanism features an acceleration system that provides for greater control with lower force.

Also, the hand control mounting system has benefited from an increasingly lower profile, which means flexible cables that fix closer to the under-dash for more leg room. Some portions of the mount can actually be housed inside of the dash panel.

Hand controls installation

Hand controls installation must be performed by a certified technician.

How to qualify for handicap hand controls

Qualifying for hand controls for driving requires an assessment and prescription from a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. The process was created using Best Practice Guidelines as established by the National Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists.

The general process for assessment, qualification, fitting, and training is as follows:

1. Taking a comprehensive assessment with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. To determine medical fitness, functional status, and appropriate adaptive mobility equipment

2. Training to understand and master the use of the adaptive controls. By practicing skills needed for independent control — such as acceleration, braking, parking, etc.

3. Beginning the vehicle modifications and participating in a vehicle fitting. Complete with cost estimate, equipment ordering, and a final fitting

4. Completing your final training using your newly modified vehicle. To assure the you are proficient and comfortable operating adaptive controls across regular driving routes

A basic Internet search will provide you with the locations and directions of a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist — or Occupational Therapist — in your area, organized by zip codes.

AMS Vans offer a wide selection of hand controls for driving adaptable mobility vehicles. From hand accelerators to rotating knobs, we’re doing more to improve the independence of our customers with special needs and disabilities.

About AMS Vans

America’s Mobility Van Dealer is a national wheelchair accessible van dealer and manufacturer with a mission to deliver the industry’s best adaptable vehicles and mobility equipment that meets the unique needs of our customers at a price they can afford.