Hands-Free Driving: Adaptations For Drivers Without Full Use Of The Arms

When one or both of your arms are injured or missing, driving a traditional vehicle becomes nearly impossible. In the event of a recent injury or limb loss, you need to know the options for adapting your vehicle to accommodate a hands-free driving style. Making these changes to your existing vehicle can mean that the loss of the use of an arm does not have to mean that you sacrifice your independence. Here are some common changes to consider:

1. Horn Placement And Steering Wheel

Normally, it's easy to hit your horn if it is located on the center of the steering wheel, but if you can't reach the regular steering wheel, a change needs to be made. Have your mechanic install a button on the floor of the car that you can hit with your left foot (your right foot is still needed to operate the brake and gas). Another option is to have a button panel installed on your wheelchair that you can operate with a hand (if your arm is injured but your hand is fine). 

If you have lost full ability to use both arms, the steering can also be changed to be foot operated. However, usually if you have one arm functioning, you can adapt the steering column to make it easier to turn one handed. If you have a partial arm (from the elbow or below), you can have a prosthetic limb made that is attached to the wheel, allowing you to drive as normal. 

2. Transmission

When you purchase a vehicle, you have the choice between a standard (manual) and automatic transmission. With arm impairment, using the gear shift stick constantly while driving is a challenge. If you currently have a manual transmission in your car, selling your car and purchasing a new vehicle with an automatic engine will be necessary. In some older cars, swapping out the transmissions is possible, but it is large project, as transmission work is expensive. Newer cars have many computerized components that make swapping transmission styles even more complex, so selling and re-purchasing is a much simpler and cost-effective option. 

3. Direction Signals

When you need to signal left or right, turn on your high beam headlights, or even use your windshield wipers, the normal stick controls next to the steering wheels are not an option. Instead, these can be operated with mechanical attachments that allow you to move the handles on the steering column with your feet instead of your hands. 

Adapting to life with limited arm function is challenging, but you can design your car to work with you instead of against you. Contact a mechanic shop, such as R N S Service, about installing the needed adaptations to your vehicle.