Hand controls allow people with physical disabilities the ability to drive accessible vehicles independently using alternative methods. If you want to drive safely, hand controls may be an option for many people.
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. There are many types of hand controls and it is important to speak to a NMEDA dealer to find which best suits your needs. 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 with no 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 persons 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 vehicle 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 persons 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. Primary controls manage gas, brakes and steering while the Secondary driving controls are designed to operate other vehicle functions.
- Manual driving controls – You can get controls that work the clutch and allow you to shift gears but they can be hard to find. In place of the push-pull or right-angle control arm a ring mounted inside the circumference of the steering wheel controls the acceleration, while a lever mounted next to the gear shift/clutch stick controls the brake.
You should expect to take lessons from a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist before getting the OK to operate a vehicle with hand controls.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.