October 14, 2016

Enabled Driving: Innovative Vehicle Modifications Make it Possible

Enabled driving

When it comes to freedom, many find it on the open road, behind the wheel of one’s favorite car.

Physical disability doesn’t change that, where from adaptive operation to transporting a mobility product, hitting the open road is wonderfully possible – with the right enabled driving equipment, that is.

Lets talk about enabled driving.

enabled driving hand controls

Vehicle Controls

You may have heard the term, ”hand controls.” However, a more apt term is, ”vehicle controls,” where a vast array of enabled driving technologies allow vehicle operation among a wide range of physical needs. For example, pedal extensions allow those of a short stature to drive, moving the pedals closer. Hand controls allow those without the use of their legs to drive using their arms, where a lever system allows pedal operation. And, electronic controls can go as far as eliminating use of the pedals and steering wheel altogether, replacing it with a joystick-type control for those with very limited upper-body use and strength. Of course, there are a lot of variations in-between, where adaptive solutions are seemingly limitless.

Transfer Seats

For those not driving from a wheelchair, but from the vehicle’s seat, a transfer seat proves extremely beneficial. There are two types of transfer seats – exterior and interior. An exterior transfer seat electronically rotates out of the vehicle and lowers down for transfer from a wheelchair or walker. Then, at the push of a button, the transfer seat lifts you up and rotates into the vehicle. They’re a great, safe transfer solution designed for those who have difficulty getting in and out of their car. This enabled driving technology is one really gaining popularity with seniors.


Interior transfer seats are used in wheelchair-accessible vans. The wheelchair user can enter the van from the  middle, and then electronically rotate the seat rearward for transfer. Once the user transfers, the seat rotates back into the driving position. For those using a wheelchair or scooter, but wish to drive from the vehicle seat, a transfer seat allows ultimate access.


Transporting Your Mobility Product

At the upper-end of mobility transport is an accessible van, modified with a lift or ramp, to roll right in. With proper modification, one can roll a wheelchair into the driving position and drive from one’s wheelchair with the right securement technology.


For those wishing to use a more standard vehicle, an exterior or interior vehicle lift is a very practical, economical solution. An exterior lift plugs into most vehicle hitch receivers, and allows a wheelchair or scooter to be driven onto it, then it raises for transport, on the rear of the vehicle. An interior lift – typically used in a minivan, SUV, or cross-over – lifts and stows the wheelchair or scooter in the rear of the vehicle. These lift types, based on model, now can handle up to 450 lbs., so they even work with full-size power chairs. Of course, with these types of lifts, one must be able to walk to the driver’s seat, but they are a popular, practical solution for many.



Reimbursement for Adaptive Driving Equipment

Many consumers don’t realize that when you purchase a new vehicle, most auto manufacturers will reimburse the cost of adaptive driving equipment up to $1,000. Simply Google the manufacturer name and add “accessibility program,” and it’s easy to find most manufacturers’ programs. You’ll need to print a form, fill it out , include the receipt, and within six to eight weeks, you’ll receive a check. For adaptions like basic hand controls or an exterior lift, it can cover most of the cost.


Hitting the Adaptive Open Road

Based on disability, driving may not be feasible for everyone. However, the range of adaptive technologies is astounding. Whether you need a little adaptive equipment or a lot, don’t rule out driving until you’ve explored all of the options.

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