#ShowYourMettle on the Road With These Driving Aids

May 08, 2017
Tagged with: #ShowYourMettle on the Road With These Driving Aids

 

Today, thousands of Americans are wearing and displaying their prosthetics in a show of pride and solidarity. The Amputee Coalition is encouraging amputees to demonstrate their pride online with the hashtag #ShowYourMettle. To show your “mettle” — the ability to resiliently cope in the face of adversity — you should show your “metal”.

Statistics indicate that limb loss is not a fringe issue. There are well over 2 million people in the US who are living with limb loss today. Each year, nearly 200,000 additional amputations are performed. The needs of people with a disability must be addressed, and the ability to drive is essential to getting fair access to opportunities.

Technological advancements in assistive driving devices — and federal initiatives like the Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) program — ensure that equal opportunity is afforded to every American. The following driving aids allow these citizens to stay on the road:

Acceleration/Brake Modifications

  • Pedal Extension: Gas and brake pedal extensions can typically be adjusted to shorten the distance needed to reach the pedal from 6 to 12 inches. Most models can even be folded out of the way if other users need to drive. Some manufacturers may offer custom foot pedal extensions if additional assistance is required.
  • Left-Foot Gas Pedal: For people who must use their left foot to operate a vehicle, a left foot gas pedal can be an invaluable convenience — especially for peopl who have severe knee pain. Any vehicle with an automatic transmission can be equipped with this, and most models even feature a pedal stop. An accelerator or brake guard can also be used in conjunction with a left-foot gas pedal to prevent users from accidentally applying throttle or braking.
  • Pedal Covers: A relatively simple modification, pedal covers are intended to improve the grip and durability of the pedals in your car. For drivers who will be using prosthetics to operate their vehicle, pedal covers are especially important.
  • Push-Rock Hand Control: Drivers who do not have the ability to use pedals can use a hand control system for acceleration and braking. This consists of a handle located next to the steering wheel. When pushed forward, the car accelerates. When pulled towards the driver, it brakes. This intuitive system can be installed in nearly any vehicle. Since they do not impede the use of the pedals, other users can drive the car as they usually would.

Steering

  • Spinner Knob or Ring: Drivers who have limited or no use of one arm can benefit from a spinner knob. These devices easily mount onto any steering wheel, and allow users to move the wheel more easily and safely with one hand. A ring works in very much the same way, except it has a ring that can be easily gripped by drivers using prosthetics.
  • Foot-operated steering system: People who cannot easily use a steering wheel may want to opt to use a foot steering system. These include a rotary plate that can be operated with the left foot, which emulates the control of a steering wheel. It even has a 1:1 ratio with a traditional steering wheel, so controls are intuitive.

Secondary Car Controls

  • Touchpad console: As a high-tech alternative to an analog hand control system, a variety of touchpad consoles are available in the market that are designed to help drivers with limited mobility access functions like ignition, cruise control, wipers, and lights.
  • Electronic Park Brakes: For people with limited or no use of their left leg, a hand brake is easily accessible. However, due to physical restrictions, reaching a park brake pedal can be difficult. Since the early 2000s, however, many car models have been outfitted with electronic park brakes. Today, there are a wide range of third party options. These are much more accessible to people with disabilities.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to accommodating people who have undergone amputations. However, regardless of your needs, there are driving aids that can assist you. For pragmatic people looking to protect themselves in case of an accident — and, keep in mind, Americans are considering long-term disability at a younger age nowadays than ever before — the development of these aids can be a great source of relief. Today, thousands of amputees are choosing to proudly show their mettle, presenting the perfect opportunity to hit the road and show off their metal.

Author: Devin Morrissey



  • bobl07

    Thanks Devin! I have been driving for over 25 years, this is the best description of how these devices work. It seems as if every year new technology makes the impossible, possible.