There are many adaptive changes that can be made to a vehicle to allow people with mobility challenges the ability to drive accessible handicapped vans independently. Some solutions are easy to install depending on the vehicle but you will need training to operate the vehicle with them.
Hand controls allow the driver to operate both the brake and gas pedal using levers that are typically mounted below the steering wheel and attach to the pedals themselves. They can be very comfortable, ergonomically designed, and can provide maximum grip for minimal efforts, which reduces muscle fatigue.
There are many types of hand controls and it is important to find which options suit your needs best, as there are many options out there. Here are some basic types to get you started:
- Push/rock style – When the driver pushes the handle forward the vehicle will brake and when the lever is rocked back it will accelerate. People without finger dexterity can operate this model.
- Push/right angle style – Allows the driver to push the handle upward toward the instrument panel to brake and downward at a right angle to accelerate. This method is operable for people with limited finger dexterity.
- Push/pull style – By pushing the lever forward on the handle the vehicle’s brakes will engage and when it is pulled backward the handicapped van will accelerate. A three-post hand interface can be installed to allow the user to maintain contact with the handle giving the driver greater control. This operation model is good for people with limited finger dexterity.
- Push/rotate style – The driver pushing the handle forward causes the vehicle to brake and when the lever is twisted the vehicle will accelerate. Full or limited finger function is required for this type of control.
- Electronically assisted hand controls offers two types of controls. The primary controls manage gas, brakes and steering while the secondary driving controls are designed to operate other vehicle functions.
You should expect to take lessons from a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist before getting the OK to operate a handicapped van with hand controls.
This mobility update has been brought to you by M.C. Mobility Systems. For more information about wheelchair accessible vehicles, visit MCMobilitySystems.com to find the dealership nearest you.