Almost any car can be modified, but
the types of vehicles and modifications appropriate for each
driver are based completely on individual need and preference.
Be sure to see Infinitec's driving
assessment page to find out what's involved in a personal
driving assessment before making any modifications.
are extremely important to ensure personal safety, and it
can't be stressed enough how unique each person's needs are;
five people with the same disability will require five different
modifications, and possibly even five different vehicles.(See
Vehicle selection.) What's
more, a proper evaluation will save you a lot of money you
might have wasted on the wrong equipment. Protect yourself
and others by taking all the right steps.
Helpful Resource: Adapting Motor
Vehicles for People with Disabilities
An online brochure detailing the process of selecting and
installing assistive devices for drivers with disabilities.
Examples of typical modifications prescribed by driving rehabilitation
|We usually don't think of an automatic transmission as an adaptive device, but adaptive devices were often first created as conveniences for the general public! An automatic transmission eliminates the need for a clutch and manual shift.
| Power steering
is another winner! It has aided nearly everyone, but especially
those with a weak upper body, some of whom use hand-controls.
Systems offers a device that helps control the rebound
energy in vehicle suspensions, so driver and passengers
won't get jostled around and your vehicle retains stability.
The device can prevent road bumps, wind from passing trucks,
rollovers, and other accidents caused by vehicle instability.
| A siren detector
electronically detects the high decibel sound waves of
an ambulance or fire truck for a driver who is hearing-impaired.
Bioptics (by Ocutech) is a system with a telescope attached to prescription eye glasses. This system enables a driver with low-vision to drive by glancing intermittently through special lenses.
Consumers who have successfully worn Bioptic telescopic lenses include individuals with macular disease from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, albinism, Stargardt’s disease, optic Atrophy, myopic degeneration, nystagmus, macular holes, PXE, and many other eye conditions that affect central vision. Read more here: http://www.ocutech.com
- Steering Knobs are employed for positive, one-hand
control, adjustable to one's ability.
- Drivers with no grip or diminished wrist stability
can use tri-pins, a three-pronged grip for
- A steering cuff offers complete support and
control for a driver with a totally disabled hand
- A palm grip, v-grip or quad fork is used
with some quadriplegics for steering. It is placed
at any position on the wheel according to the prescription
and driver's personal comfort.
- An amputee ring accommodates drivers with
a prosthetic hook on their steering arms. (The prosthesis
should have soft surface pinchers.)
- Modified-effort steering reduces strength
needed to operate power steering or brakes for someone
with low strength or endurance.
- Floor-mounted steering is a floor steering
wheel for foot control
|Other adaptive devices
| A raised
roof or dropped floor makes room to accommodate a drive seated in a mobility device.
| A left-foot
accelerator eliminates left leg cross-over.
| A pedal extender
raises the height of the brake and accelerator, so the driver can control them with his/her hands, instead of feet.
|A push/pull lever
works like a pedal extender, but can also control the horn, windshield wipers, turn signals, and other features. (Temporary or mounted hand-controls are not recommended by the Veterans Association.)
| A steering
column extension moves the steering wheel closer to driver.
| A Joy-stick
system another single-handed device to control a vehicle.
| Left-handed gear selection
is done with an electric gear changer.
| Using a right-hand
turn signal allows right hand operation without cross-over.
| Remote switches,
(including elbow switches) repositions or builds up the secondary controls (horn, wipers, and turn signals).
secure a wheelchair or scooter in place, so it won’t roll while car is moving; there are several types.
|To ease transferring from a wheelchair into a bucket seat, power seats can employed. A power seat can be customized for balance, positioning and stability.
|• Many drivers use transfer boards to transfer into and out of the car.
can be customized for balance, positioning and stability.
wheelchair or scooter lift also can be installed for entering or exiting a vehicle. Some lifts are designed to lift the driver and mobility device together, while others only lift the mobility device for storage. They are narrow enough to fit into a trunk, along with the mobility device. Lifts may eliminate the need to have a van.
|A ramp may also accommodate, and they come in a variety of styles.
|Automatic locks and window controls make life easier, most new vehicles have these features.
| A wheelchair
carrier mounted on the roof or back of a vehicle is used for storage and doesn’t require a large vehicle.
| A quad key-holder
or turner or turner can be a life-saver for drivers lacking fine motor control.
The Braun Corporation
This Braun site provides a general description of options to consider when purchasing adaptive driving equipment.
Below are questions to consider when selecting a vehicle. They are provided by Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). A certified adaptive driving specialist can best assist you with the completion of a driver rehabilitation program.
- The specialist helps determine whether you need a car, truck, full-sized van, or a mini-van.
- What are your physical limitations? What will affect your ability to access and drive a vehicle?
- Are you concerned with the mental or physical stress related to driving?
- What is your ability to transfer into and out of a vehicle?
- Will you require an adapted seat or lift to get in and out?
- If you require a lift, what options do you prefer? A side- or rear-door entrance/exit, electric or hydraulic, platform swing-out, or super-arm?
- Will you need a lowered floor or raised top and doors?
- What is your height from head to ground when sitting, and what is the length and width of your wheelchair or scooter?
- Will you drive in your wheelchair, or transfer to a power seat?
- Will you need special modifications, such as hand-controls, to operate your vehicle?
- What are the services and warranty programs on your vehicle of choice? What parts are covered, and where can emergency repair work be done if you're out of town?
- Are you eligible for funding sources through the Veteran's Administration, your state's division of vocational rehabilitation, developmental disabilities services, worker's compensation, or health insurance?
- Many private insurance companies cover driver rehabilitation programs too, and some driver's insurance covers vehicle modification.
- Have you checked with a qualified accountant to determine eligibility for tax credits for modifications?
- Have you checked with the vehicle manufacturer for rebate programs to help pay for modifications? Chrysler, Ford and General Motors all have reimbursement programs for vehicle-modification costs, and there are probably others. (See the Adaptive Equipment and Vehicle Dealers section.) You can get reimbursed for purchasing and modifying a vehicle for your disability.