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Mechanical hand controls – Everything you need to know

As time marches on, the vehicle adaptation industry is continually developing better ways of helping disabled drivers. Arguably one of the oldest types of adaptations is hand controls. These allow disabled drivers to control the accelerator and brake pedals via a system of levers mounted below the steering wheel.

So what are the different types of hand controls?Push-pull hand controls

Push/pull hand controls

The standard push/pull controls are a very simple set of levers attached to the car’s accelerator and brake pedals and fitted to one side of the steering wheel. All a driver needs to do is pull towards themselves to go and push away from themselves to stop.

Radial hand or push/right angle controlsRadial hand controls

Radial or push/right angle hand controls provide an alternative solution for drivers who struggle to grip with their hands. Similar to push/pull controls, drivers will still control the brake by pushing a lever away from themselves. However, the accelerator is now operated at right angles to the brake by pushing the lever down towards the floor of the vehicle.

Because the lever can be pressed downwards using any part of the hand, no grip is required. These controls can also help to alleviate shoulder pain that can be experienced by some drivers following prolonged periods of driving with push/pull controls.

Floor-mounted push/pull hand controls Floor-mounted push-pull hand controls

For drivers who struggle to hold their arms up for long periods, there is the option of the floor-mounted push/pull hand controls. These are operated by pushing and pulling a lever attached to the floor on the left side of the driver.

Again, the brake is operated by pushing away while the accelerator is engaged by pulling inwards towards the driver. With the operating hand sitting much lower next to the driver’s thigh, there is less strain on the arm and shoulder. It can also make getting in and out of the vehicle easier due to the positioning of the controls compared to some other systems.

With all of these systems, the vehicle can still be driven using the pedals if desired as they are not affected and remain intact.

Why choose Ergomobility?

Ergomobility is an independent adaptations specialist, which means that we have no ties to any specific manufacturers. We only ever select our products based on quality and performance and always choose adaptations that are right for our customers. This is why we use ‘Discreet Hand Controls’ wherever possible because we understand the benefits that they offer to our customers.

What are discreet hand controls

With these systems, the metal rods are largely hidden, which is not only aesthetically far more pleasing than having them on show, but also makes entering and exiting the vehicle much easier without banging the knees.

There are various types of mechanical hand controls out there, so if you can’t find what you are looking for, contact us to discuss your requirements.

Adapted vehicles – what are they and how can they help?

The freedom being able to drive affords us allows us to experience the world in a variety of new and interesting ways. From a simple trip to the local grocery store to that much-anticipated vacation, driving gives us the ability to accomplish and enjoy so much more of what life has to offer.

Whilst driving with a disability may seem scary and intimidating, perhaps even impossible, it’s doesn’t have to be. With advancements in vehicle adaptations, more and more disabled can discover, or rediscover, the independence offered by adapted vehicles, either privately or through the Motability Scheme.

What adapted vehicles offer

Adapted vehicles solve a wide variety of challenges for those with disabilities. Car Adaptations can range from simple steering balls to full Drive From Wheelchair customisations, depending on the needs of our customers. After a thorough assessment, Ergomobility will be able to offer the best solution to meet your needs, helping you to confidently operate your vehicle and opening up a whole new world of exploration.

Here are just a few of the adaptations available:Under-ring accelerator

Hand Controls

Hand controls allow people with limited lower body movement to control the adapted vehicle’s accelerator and brake with the use of paddles, rings or levers around the steering wheel.

Left Foot Accelerator

Adapted vehicles with an automatic gearbox and left foot accelerator are perfect for people who have limited movement on the right side of their body, allowing them to use the pedals with a single foot.

Radio RemotesDriving Controls

Radio remotes are particularly useful for people who find it difficult or impossible to drive with two hands and allows access to other in-car controls via a keypad on the steering wheel. These include the radio, air conditioning, windscreen wipers etc.

Radio remotes can also come with a miniature steering function or stick steering which allows you to control the movement of the car within a much smaller area.

Wheelchair Hoists

While driving is the end goal, you first have to be able to enter and exit the vehicle and sit comfortably enough to drive. This is the realm of the wheelchair hoist, which will help to lift either a driver or passenger from their seat into the car.

Swivel Seats

Another accessibility adaptation is the swivel seat, which allows the driver or passenger to unlock the seating position and turn the seat to the side, making ingress and egress a much simpler task.

Drive From Wheelchair

Although one of the more complicated vehicle adaptations, wheelchair driving is also possible for several people. The ability to access the adapted vehicle’s full functionality from your wheelchair means that it will necessitate a larger vehicle with ramp access. However, the benefit is that you won’t need to transition to and from your wheelchair to go for a drive.

The Process

How difficult it will be to learn to drive with a disability is not an easy choice to make and the process can be difficult. Ergomobility is here to help you each step of the way and can provide information and recommendations for each step of the process.

Step one is to undertake an assessment to determine exactly what kind of adaptations you will need to safely operate your vehicle.

If you can find a driving instructor with a suitably adapted vehicle, you could start learning to drive a mobility car straight away. Alternatively, you will need to secure a car with the required changes first (which may take some months).

However, once you are proficient and have your licence, the freedom and independence your adapted vehicle will provide are priceless.

For more information about adapted vehicles, you can contact our friendly and knowledgeable team on 01444 882233 or Alternatively, head on over to our contact page and fill out the enquiry form.

Everything you need to know about driving with a disability

Living with a disability can make normal daily activities more challenging and the things many of us take for granted are a constant struggle. However, driving doesn’t have to be one of them.

Constant advancements in vehicle adaptions are making independent mobility possible for a wider range of disabilities all the time.

So, in order to remain safe and legal on the roads, it’s important to keep abreast of all the requirements surrounding driving with disabilities.

Driving with a disability

The most accurate answer to this question is, probably. It all depends on your circumstances.

Whether you are a new driver applying for a provisional licence or a qualified driver who has developed a “notifiable” medical condition or disability, you will need to inform the DVLA and declare all disabilities and medical conditions.

Using this information, the DVLA will assess your condition to determine whether you comply with the medical standards of fitness to drive. Should the DVLA deem you fit to drive, it will make recommendations on any modifications you need to make to your vehicle.

Getting a provisional licence

If you’re unsure whether you will meet the medical standards for driving and would like more information before applying for your provisional licence, the best course of action is to seek advice from a driving mobility assessment centre. Here, professionals will be able to assess your abilities and give you the right advice on your mobility options.

Once you have acquired your provisional licence, it is recommended you seek out a specially trained instructor in your area who has experience in teaching disabled drivers. These instructors will often have a tuition car modified for disabled drivers. However, these modifications are likely to be basic and may not suit your particular needs.

If you require more specialised vehicle adaptations, you may need to consider purchasing or leasing a car that meets your needs. Most driving instructors will be happy to give tuition in your vehicle.

While most prospective drivers will need to be over the age of 17 to hold a driver’s licence, those receiving the enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be able to get a provisional licence at 16.

Passing your driving test

Regardless of your disability or the severity thereof, you will need to pass the same theory and practical driving tests if you want to get your licence. However, some concessions may be made in both instances.

You can inform the centre at the time of booking should you require any extra time to allow the examiner to talk you through any modifications or any other information you may require.

The practical test will be taken in a vehicle that meets your requirements and the examiner will record any restriction codes to appear on your licence.

getting provisional licence with disability

Keeping your licence if you become disabled

When you are ready to start driving again after an accident or illness that has left you with a disability, you’ll first need to inform the DVLA of your condition. If you’re unsure this is necessary, your doctor should be able to advise.

The DVLA will then assess your condition and take appropriate action, which could range from being issued a shorter licence or a requirement to drive a modified car to having to give up your licence completely for a designated period of time.

Other ‘notifiable’ conditions that require you to inform the DVLA include anything which could affect your ability to drive safely, including diabetes, epilepsy or glaucoma.

What car can I drive if I have a disability?

What car you can drive will depend entirely on what restriction codes appear on your driving licence and any adaptations you may need to have fitted.

Also, if you pass your driving test in a modified vehicle, you will need to have the same or equivalent modifications on your personal vehicle; just like if you passed your test in an automatic car, you would not be allowed to drive a manual.

Advancements in vehicle adaptations have made it possible for people with a wide range of disabilities to continue driving, from hand-controls and swivel seats to full Drive From Wheelchair systems.

If you’re unsure what you may need or what is available, then you can go for an assessment at The Motability Scheme or a vehicle adaptation specialist like Ergomobility.

Lowering swivel Seat - Turny Evo

What does being a disabled driver mean for my car tax and insurance?

If you receive the higher rate mobility component of DLA or the enhanced rate mobility component of PIP, you can apply for an exemption on your car tax. You can also get a 50% reduction in car tax if you receive the standard rate mobility component of PIP.

It is illegal for insurers to refuse cover or increase premiums on an insurance policy on the grounds of disability. However, failing to tell your insurer of any disability or medical condition may invalidate your cover, so it’s best to speak to your insurer directly in order to ensure you have the cover you need.

Whether it’s commuting to work daily or popping our for a bit of retail therapy, the freedom offered by driving is irreplaceable in some people’s lives. Ergomobility is here to help find the best solutions to your motoring needs and get you back where you belong, on the open road behind the wheel of your own vehicle.

Ergomobility Sussex
Units 1 – 4, Crosspost Industrial Park,
Cowfold Road, Bolney,
West Sussex, RH17 5QU

Telephone: 01444 882233

Ergomobility Thames Valley
Reading, RG4 7XW

Telephone: 0118 321 8193

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