What type of vehicle do you drive and how is it adapted for you?
"I have a BraunAbility Entervan with a mechanical steering system and a number of different adaptations such as lightened power steering, a seat belt adaptation, moved electrical functions, a more bucketed seat and a wheelchair lock etcetera. Perhaps the most eye catching adaptation is the steering wheel and pedals. Since I don’t have any arms or legs we’ve moved all the controls closer to me. Apart from the steering the one thing that really makes me an independent driver is the lowered floor. It gives me the freedom to enter and exit my car as I want."
How did you come up with this solution?
"Growing up I spent a lot of time with my father in his car, I observed and thought about what I would need to be able to drive. When I later decided to get a driver’s licence I had already drawn up the necessary adaptations in my head. The adaptations I have today are pretty much the same as I got back in 1983. The real change is that everything is better and safer. Back then an adaptation could be a bent metal bar fixed dangerously close to my body in order to move some mechanical function. Today you wouldn’t even consider that sort of thing."
Is this your first adapted vehicle?
"No, this will be my fourth."
What will be the main difference for you with this new adaptation?
"When it comes down to the actual functions there aren’t really any drastic changes. The main difference is as I’ve said, in safety and ergonomics. For instance we’ve improved the way the steering wheel collapses in the case of a crash, also the lock that keeps my powered wheelchair secured has been improved a lot.
I came really close to choosing an electronic steering system but in the end I went with the mechanical solution. I don’t really have anything bad to say about electronic steering systems but I personally feel that I don’t have the same connection to the road as I do with a mechanical system. At the same time I know having the steering wheel close to my body isn’t really optimal either but in the end it all comes down to making choices. I spend a lot of time on the road and whether I’m driving my kids to school; overtaking a truck on the highway or driving on icy roads I feel more comfortable doing it mechanically rather than trusting it to electronics.
Oh! I have an automatic hatch opener, I’ve never had that before and I really look forward to put things in the trunk by myself."
If you could choose freely where in the world would you take your adapted vehicle?
"Australia! I’d really love to go there. Partly because I would like to experience driving on the left side of the road but also because of the varying scenery in Australia."