Hand controls are equipment and devices that allow seniors and a person with limited or no lower body or leg movement to drive using the hands only.
Depending on how they are installed, most vehicles can have hand control levers and foot pedal operation so vehicles can still be used in a standard manner. Some car manufacturers will fit hand controls to new or used models or they can be done by specialist vehicle modifiers. Prior to purchasing a vehicle, it is recommended advice is sought as to the appropriateness of certain models for modification.
Modifications can also be done to allow independent operation of car accessories, including:
- Press button horns
- Joystick operated accessories for windscreen wipers, lights, indicators and hazard lights.
- Infra-red push button control pad for operation of accessories which is attached to the steering wheel and linked to the vehicle wiring.
- Voice activated accessory controls.
- Extended indicator or windscreen wiper levers.
- Crossover levers for windscreen wipers to allow operation of lights and wipers with one hand.
Modifications can be done to convert the steering, clutch, accelerator and brake pedals to hand controls by installing:
- Accelerator rings attached either over the top of or behind the existing steering wheel and are pushed or pulled against the steering wheel to accelerate.
- Hand control levers which are operated using a push pull system - with push to brake and pull to accelerate electronic indicators.
- Thumb operated accelerators which are held in the palm adjacent to the steering wheel and operated using a small lever with the thumb, with a button which can be added for cruise control.
- Modified hand control grips with loop and velcro fastening requiring twisting action of the hand to operate the controls.
- Computerized clutch which is a button installed on the gear stick of a manual car which when pushed and the gear stick operated, the clutch pedal is bypassed. For individuals with reduced grip strength that are unable to operate the clutch button on the transmission lever, a modified grip is available which enables activation through hand pressure.
- Hand control levers which are operated using a push twist system. Easily attachable and removable portable hand controls that can be transferred between vehicles.
In order to ensure vehicle modifications comply with individual country and state licensing compliance regulations, the appropriate licensing body should be contacted to determine if any permits or conditions apply. If specific vehicle modifications are required to enable a person with disability to drive, conditional codes may be placed on a Drivers license outlining this and specialized vehicle insurance may be required.
To determine the most appropriate vehicle modifications to suit people needs, specialized driving assessors can conduct assessments and provide recommendations on:
- Driving assessments
- Vehicle modifications
- Workplace solutions and adjustments
- Car modification training
For people that are required to drive a vehicle as part of their work role, some vehicle modifications may be required. If vehicles are leased rather than owned and used by multiple employees, temporary or removable modifications will be the most appropriate.