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Guide to vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers

Access to a vehicle is so important – keeping your life open and full of possibilities. But when you struggle with mobility, it can be hard to maintain an active lifestyle outside the home, especially as vehicle’s are not designed with full accessibility in mind. 

With a wide range of vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers, there are many solutions that make the driving and travelling experience more accessible and comfortable, whatever your situation. 

Understanding vehicle adaptations

A common misunderstanding about vehicle adaptations is that they are related to performance modifications. They are not. Vehicle adaptations are innovative systems that enable people with disabilities or reduced mobility to enjoy accessible car travel and independent driving. 

There are a wide range of car adaptations available that are covered by the three main areas of a vehicle; driving, getting seated and storage. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers and passengers. 

Adaptive driving controls

Driving adaptations for disabled drivers are specifically designed systems that can be fitted to a vehicle to help people overcome a host of driving challenges.

They are particularly beneficial for people with reduced mobility, limited dexterity, physical disabilities, or limb amputations who find it difficult, painful, or even impossible to use the vehicle’s standard functions. 

The most popular driving aids include hand controls and pedal adaptations which allow you to operate the acceleration and brake via your hands or left foot. 

Seating and transfer adaptations

Car accessibility aids can be fitted to aid drivers and passengers when getting seated in and out of a vehicle. Although there have been some great advancements in original manufactured vehicles that can assist with basic accessibility, the role vehicle adaptations play are still hugely vital to achieve full access for disabled drivers and passengers. 

Our range includes swivel seats, person hoists, transfer plates and side steps which can help a variety of needs. These can assist with seated transfers from a wheelchair or mobility scooter as well as standing transfers. 

Steering aids

Steering aids can be used by individuals with a range of disabilities which cause reduced mobility in the arms or hands. Arthritis and joint pain are some of the common reasons why people require steering aids as it may prove difficult or painful to grip the standard steering wheel. 

To suit a wide range of individual needs, we offer steering wheel knobs, specialist steering aids and steering remote controls. 

Whilst these can be used independently, they are often used in conjunction with hand controls to enable the safe one-handed operation of a vehicle’s steering wheel.

Safety and visibility enhancements

There are also a variety of mobility aids which enhance safety, access and visibility to optimise the overall driving experience.

These include panoramic mirrors which extend your view of blind spots, a seat buckle assist which offers an improved grip over the buckle and reduces the uncomfortable twisting often involved in fastening a seatbelt, and boot straps/automatic boot openers which improve the accessibility of your car boot. 

Accessible storage and loading solutions

Mobility devices such as a wheelchair, powerchair or mobility scooter are often very heavy and cumbersome. This can make it difficult to physically lift and load the device into a car, particularly for the user who has reduced mobility. 

A loading system is fitted to a vehicle to allow for easy lifting and loading of a mobility scooter or wheelchair within the car. 

Our loading and stowage aids such as boot hoists and wheelchair roof boxes,  can be used independently by the mobility scooter or wheelchair user or by someone else travelling with them, such as a family member, friend, or carer. 

Cost considerations and funding options

Like with purchasing most mobility equipment, costing is a key consideration. There are various payment and funding options to purchase your vehicle adaptations including, the Motability Scheme, finance packages, VAT exemption and charity grants. 

Installation and professional guidance

Most vehicle adaptations require a specialist installation by a trained engineer due to the nature of accessing the vehicle’s electrical systems and fitting equipment securely.  That being said, there are a few accessories available that can be easily fitted by yourself. 

Whilst there are so many mobility adaptations available, it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Everyone’s requirements and capabilities are unique as well as the vehicle and mobility device combination. So it’s extremely important to speak with a professional vehicle adaptation company to advise on the right solutions for your needs and confirm vehicle suitability. 

At Mobility in Motion we offer a needs based assessment, select the right adaptations tailored to your individual needs and provide fuss-free installation and aftercare support. If you’d like to know more about our range of car modifications for disabled drivers, funding options and how they can help you, contact our team of friendly mobility experts online or call us on 0800 288 4422.