Archive for Accelerators

Three things for disabled drivers to look for in an EV

Chargine electric vehicles (EV)One of the most important aspects of adult independence is being able to get around by yourself. Whether you’re going to work, meeting a friend, or simply going to the shop to choose your own groceries, being able to drive can be an essential part of this. It’s especially important for those who live in rural areas, who may struggle to access public transportation, or for those with disabilities, who might find it difficult to use buses or trains.

But the purchase of any car is a big investment, let alone an electric vehicle (EV), which is often more expensive than a standard petrol vehicle. It’s important to make sure that whatever you purchase, it’s the right choice for you, rather than just the one that’s been recommended. Reviews are a great place to start, but you’ll need to consider what your specific requirements are going to be.

But what should people with disabilities be looking for when choosing an EV? We take a look at some of the key elements.

Electric vehicle charging

Ease of charging your EV

If you’re only doing relatively short journeys, then you should be able to simply charge your EV at home each night, rather than needing to look for charging stations whilst you’re out and about. This can make things a lot easier, but you should consider what type of charging point you’re going to need and where you’ll need to park in order to charge the car.

You should also look at the charging cable, and pick it up to check how heavy it is and how hard or easy it is to manoeuvre. Whilst an EV cable offers non-grip charging, which can be easier for people with joint pain or lack of hand mobility, they can be weighty to move around, so it’s worth trying out this process before you buy.

Electric vehicle chargingPossibility for adaptions

EVs can be a great choice for disabled drivers, as they offer a smooth ride and can be easily adapted to make driving easier for those with mobility issues. Additional controls such as hand controls, electronic accelerators, steering aids, and pedal modifications mean that people who may otherwise struggle to control traditional gears and levers can still have the freedom of driving.

There is a range of electronic accelerators available, meaning that you can further personalise your vehicle to your exact needs. This technology is placed on the steering wheel or behind it. When you’re looking at choosing an EV, if you think you might benefit from this technology, then why not come in for a free assessment and we’ll help you find what works best for your needs.

EV Range

It’s important to consider the length of the journeys that you’ll typically be doing in your EV. Whilst there will be some exceptions, if you’re primarily doing short journeys, then this will give you a wider range of cars to choose from. If you’re regularly doing long journeys, it may be worth comparing the ranges of different models. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find an accessible charging point, and you’d need to factor in pausing to charge, so it’s an important part of choosing the right car for you.

Travelling in an EV

 

Pedal adaptations: Everything you need to know

Electronic left foot acceleratorHelping you put your best foot forward

A whole variety of adjustments can be made to the pedals of a car, to enable driving or improve the experience. These range from left foot accelerator pedals, to pedal extensions (for those who are struggling to reach).

Left foot accelerator pedals

Left foot accelerator pedals are designed for drivers with limited use of their right leg, enabling the operation of the brake and accelerator with the left foot.

An additional accelerator pedal is fitted to the left of the brake and both accelerator pedals are hinged to flip up and down so that the vehicle can be driven using either the right foot or the left, depending on the driver. The twin flip folding system, which is the most commonly fitted, links the left and right accelerator pedals, so when one pedal is flipped down ready for use, the other flips up out of the way automatically.

Left foot accelerators will fit all automatic vehicles except those that feature ‘organ style’ (floor mounted) pedals.

Floor mounted left foot acceleratorFloor mounted left foot accelerators

Very similar to the twin flip folding system, the floor mounted left foot accelerator is designed specifically for vehicles with ‘organ style’ (floor mounted) accelerator pedals.

The system features an additional accelerator pedal, fitted to the left of the brake. This accelerator is linked to the original accelerator so that when it is depressed it pushes the existing accelerator with a roller, giving a smooth and progressive throttle response. The existing accelerator is protected by a pedal guard so that it can’t be accidentally pressed with the right foot.

The pedal guard features a quick release mechanism and can also be fitted over the left foot accelerator pedal easily, so the vehicle can be driven using either the right foot or the left, depending on the driver.

Electronic left foot accelerators

This system is designed specifically for vehicles with ‘organ style’ (floor mounted) accelerator pedals and provides an alternative solution to the floor mounted left foot accelerator. The electronic left foot accelerator works in a similar way to this system but does not require a pedal guard to protect the pedals that are not in use, allowing for more leg room in the footwell.

The system features an additional accelerator, fitted to the left of the brake. The two accelerator pedals are then cleverly wired so that you can simply flip a switch to select which pedal is to be used for acceleration, left or right.  The opposite pedal is automatically ‘switched off’ when the other is active, which means the foot not being used to drive can be rested comfortably on the other pedal, without activating the accelerator. In this way the system also allows for conventional driving with the right foot as an option.

Pedal guardPedal guards

Pedal guards are used alongside hand controls to prevent the pedals being pressed accidentally, or the feet getting stuck behind the pedals. They are particularly helpful for drivers suffering with involuntary leg movements or spasms, who are at higher risk of accidentally hitting the pedals.

Available in a single, or double pedal size, single pedal guards are often fitted to protect the brake while the accelerator is adapted with a hinge, so it can be flipped up out of the way. This serves the same purpose as a double pedal guard but it allows the right leg to be stretched out in the space where the accelerator pedal would normally be.

Pedal guards are fitted with a quick release system, so they can be removed easily, allowing for conventional driving.

Pedal extensionsPedal extensions

Pedal extensions are a great solution for drivers who struggle to reach the pedals comfortably. The distance of the extensions is made to measure, suiting the requirements of each driver individually; however, for extensions of 3-4 inches or more, a raised floor will also be recommended.

Pedal extensions can be fitted with a quick release mechanism, allowing them to be easily removed depending on the requirements.

Pedal extensions with raised floor

In cases where the pedals are extended by 3-4 inches (or more) a raised floor will be recommended, because it is unlikely in these instances that the driver’s feet will reach the floor of the vehicle naturally.

The raised floor and extensions can both be removable, allowing for conventional driving depending on requirements.

Pedal extensions with raised floor

Other pedal adjustments

Hinged accelerator pedals

Hinged accelerator pedals are designed for drivers who use hand controls for brake and acceleration. The pedal simply flips up out of the way, reducing the risk that it will be pressed accidentally, then flips back down to allow for conventional driving. This also gives the driver the option of stretching their right leg out in the space where the accelerator pedal would normally be.

Hinged accelerator pedals are often used alongside brake guards, which are designed to prevent the driver from accidentally hitting the brake pedal.

Removable pedals

For drivers using hand controls to brake and accelerate, removable pedals can provide a good alternative solution to pedal guards, particularly for those who need additional leg room in the footwell. The pedals are fitted with a quick release mechanism so they can easily be removed and fitted, depending on requirements.

Removable brake and accelerator pedals are both available, although removable accelerators have largely given way to their hinged counterparts, as they are generally a simpler solution.

Other adjustments

Drivers may find that the height of the pedals, or the distance between them causes difficulty or discomfort. A number of adjustments can be made to the pedals to resolve these problems, from bringing the height of the pedals in line with one another, to increasing the space between them, depending on requirements.

Bespoke solutions tailored to your needs

We pride ourselves on our ability to engineer bespoke solutions to resolve complex problems. If you’ve previously been told something can’t be done, please contact us to discuss your requirements so we can look at your options with you.

Electronic hand controls: Everything you need to know

Satellite AcceleratorThere is a wide range of electronic hand controls available on the market. Most operate in a similar way to mechanical hand controls but they are much lighter to use. The majority of electronic accelerators are also used alongside a mechanical brake, however, electronic brake systems are also available.

Why choose electronic hand controls

Some drivers have limited strength in their upper body as well as in the lower body, which can make operating mechanical hand controls difficult. In these cases, electronic systems can provide a good solution, because very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate them.

If you aren’t sure which hand controls you require, our team is here to talk through your options with you. If you have never used hand controls before, we may recommend a driving assessment with an accredited assessment centre.

Over-ring accelerators

electronic hand controlsThe over-ring accelerator is designed to sit neatly over the steering wheel, blending in with the vehicle’s interior. The ring is simply pressed downwards to accelerate. Because the system is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate the over ring, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited mobility in the upper body.

The brake fitted with the over ring accelerator is usually a mechanical push lever system operated by the right hand. A safety feature ensures the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

The over ring system allows the driver to operate the accelerator without removing the hands from the steering wheel, which means there is no need for a steering ball or an indicator switch on the brake lever. It also allows the driver to change the position of the hands whilst still operating the throttle, so there’s less chance of stiffening up after prolonged periods of driving.

Under-ring accelerators

Electronic hand controlsThe under-ring accelerator is designed to sit neatly under the steering wheel, blending in with the vehicle’s interior. The ring is simply pressed inwards (towards the steering wheel) to accelerate. Because the system is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate the under-ring, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited mobility in the upper body.

The brake fitted with the under-ring accelerator is usually a mechanical push lever system operated by the right hand. A safety feature ensures the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

The under-ring system allows the driver to operate the accelerator without removing the hands from the steering wheel, which means there is no need for a steering ball or an indicator switch on the brake lever. It also allows the driver to change the position of the hands whilst still operating the throttle, so there’s less chance of stiffening up after prolonged periods of driving.

The Ghost Accelerator

Electronic hand controlsThe Ghost Accelerator is the latest in electronic hand controls. It is designed to sit neatly under the steering wheel, blending in with the vehicle’s interior. The driver accelerates by performing a simple rotary movement with the ring (clockwise or anticlockwise). Because the system is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate the under ring, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited mobility in the upper body.

The brake fitted with the Ghost accelerator is usually a mechanical push lever system operated by the right hand. A safety feature ensures the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

The Ghost system allows the driver to operate the accelerator without removing the hands from the steering wheel, which means there is no need for a steering ball or an indicator switch on the brake lever. It also allows the driver to change the position of the hands whilst still operating the throttle, so there’s less chance of stiffening up after prolonged periods of driving.

Electronic radial hand controls

Electronic hand controlsRadial electronic hand controls operate in a similar way to push/pull hand controls. The brake and accelerator are controlled using a lever system that is operated by the right hand. The brake is controlled by pushing the lever away (towards the front of the car) and the accelerator is controlled by pushing the lever downwards (towards the floor of the vehicle). A safety feature ensures the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

Because the system is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate it, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited mobility in the upper body. Electronic radial hand controls are also a great solution for drivers who experience problems with gripping because the hand can simply be rested on the lever to operate the accelerator instead of needing to pull it towards the body, as is necessary with push/pull style controls.

Trigger hand controls

Electronic trigger controlsTrigger hand controls operate in a similar way to push/pull hand controls. The brake and accelerator are controlled using a lever and trigger system that is operated by the right hand. The brake is mechanical and is controlled by pushing the lever away (towards the front of the car) and the accelerator is electronic and controlled by using the index finger to pull a small trigger. A safety feature ensures the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

Because the accelerator is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate the system, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited mobility in the upper body.

Satellite accelerators

Electronic hand controlsThe satellite accelerator is operated by pressing down on a small plunger that is attached to a lead, allowing it to be held in one hand, in a variety of positions. This allows the driver to change the position of the hands whilst still operating the throttle, so there’s less chance of stiffening up after prolonged periods of driving. Because the system is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate the accelerator, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited mobility in the upper body.

The brake fitted with the satellite accelerator is usually a mechanical push lever system operated by the right hand. A safety feature ensures the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

Electronic pull accelerators

Electronic hand controlsThe electronic pull accelerator is a lever system that is operated with the right hand. The brake is mechanical and is controlled by pushing the lever away (towards the front of the car) and the accelerator is electronic and is controlled by pulling the lever inwards, towards the driver’s body. Because the accelerator is electronic, very little pressure or upper body strength is required to operate the system, which makes it a great solution for drivers with limited upper-body mobility. A safety feature ensures that the accelerator automatically cuts out when braking is applied.

The push/pull systems we fit are the very best on the market – and we always select the modern ‘discreet’ control systems wherever possible. 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.

Bespoke solutions tailored to your needs

At Ergomobility, we pride ourselves on our ability to engineer bespoke solutions to resolve complex problems. If you’ve previously been told something can’t be done, please contact us to discuss your requirements so we can look at your options with you.

Electronic Hand Controls

Electronic hand controls on the Motability Scheme are almost always electronic accelerator with a standard mechanical brake. They are designed for people who have a need for hand controls to operate the brake and accelerator but who also may suffer from upper body weakness. (The purpose of making the controls electronic is that they are extremely light and easy to operate compared to the mechanical variety).

As well as being some of the most technically advanced adaptations you will encounter on the Motability Scheme, they also come in all shapes and sizes for different people’s disabilities:

You can have Over Ring, Under Ring, Trigger, Twist Grip, Satellite, Floor mounted, Standard Push, Radial, etc… Not to mention the 5 or 6 different manufacturers listed on the Motability Scheme.

When it comes to adaptations, I would recommend that, as a Motability Specialist, you make sure your customer has had advice from an accredited Adaptation Specialist and/or Driving Assessment Centre. Assessing a customer’s requirements can be very complicated and there is a risk that, otherwise, they may end up with something that is unsuitable, causing real inconvenience to the customers (and yourselves).

Motability are now insisting that any Adaptation Specialists working with the Motability Scheme are fully trained and accredited by the Adaptation Manufacturers directly. This means the list of approved fitters around the country is now much smaller and this ensures that only the most experienced are able to fit these controls on the scheme.

Electronic Hand Controls are a fantastic product and have made it possible for many disabled drivers to drive when they would have struggled to do so with mechanical systems. However, seeking professional advice is essential before ordering.

Please click here to see further product information on our website.

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

Telephone: 01444 882233

Ergomobility Thames Valley
Tylorstown,
Caversham
Reading, RG4 7XW

Telephone: 0118 321 8193

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