6 more questions about disability and driving


Question #1

Can hand controls be disabled so able-bodied drivers can drive normally in the same car?

Actually, you don’t have to disable hand controls to drive the car in the standard fashion. Gas ring or push/pull lever hand controls just move the functionality of the pedals to other places and typically it does not prevent normal use of the pedals.

However, if the hand controls are accompanied by a pedal guard, this would have to be disengaged before driving. Luckily, pedal guards are usually designed with quick releases to facilitate car-sharing.


Question #2

Why would I choose a gas ring over other hand controls?

Left: A gas ring mounted under the steering wheel. Right: A gas ring mounted above the steering wheel.
Photo by Kivi Mobility

This is all about personal preference. Some people like having both hands on the wheel, others like the control they get with a steering device. Both systems are equally appreciated. If you live in Belgium, it’s worth noting that gas rings are the only hand controls that are allowed.


Question #3

Do you then need to brake with your foot when using a gas ring?

It depends. If you are able to you could use the brake pedal with your foot. If not the brake can be installed on a separate lever, just like push/pull hand controls. Finally, the brake can also be located on the steering wheel as a lever or a separate ring.


Question #4

Will it be possible for those with low to no vision to be able to drive?

Left: Man wearing bioptic lenses while driving. Right: Woman wearing bioptic lenses while driving.
Photo by Ocutech

The way things are progressing; autonomous vehicles might not be too far away. Today one solution would be bioptic lenses. Driving with bioptic lenses is however not legal everywhere. Talk to your local optometrist to see what could be available for you.


Question #5

What are the ethical considerations taken into account when developing adaptation technologies both for disabled drivers and others on the road?

Many of the companies working with developing vehicle accessibility solutions invest a great deal of time and money to ensure that they are safe for their users and everyone else on and around the road.

To make sure you get your adaptation products from a responsible manufacturer look for the declaration of conformity. This document will tell you what standards the product fulfils.

To learn more about how to tell if vehicle adaptation products are safe, read this article: Is your vehicle safe?


Question #6

A chronic injury in my leg and RSI in my arm prevents me from holding down the clutch pedal or holding on to the wheel for any longer duration of time. Could I be able to drive?

It’s important to know that answering a question like this is extremely hard without having more knowledge about a person’s mobility or lack thereof. However, it sounds like you would be able to drive with some very minor adaptations.

The first thing would be to get a car with automatic transmission. This would eliminate the problem of holding down the clutch. It’s not without reason automatic transmission cars are the most common cars for drivers with limited mobility.

For the RSI in your arm, there are a couple of solutions. A steering device could help you steer the car with only one hand. A purpose-built armrest could provide relief for your arm making it less cumbersome to hold the wheel. Another thing that could help is lightened power steering. This makes the steering wheel easier to turn by changing the amount of assistance you get from the car’s existing power steering.

Learn more here: Adaptations for medical conditions

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