- Disabilities & the Disabled
Hand Controls for Disabled Driver's Cars - Handicap Driving Equipment
Push Pull Hand Controls for Disabled Drivers
Driving Controls for Paraplegics
Driving for disabled people has been problematic for many years - and up until recently it was completely impossible. As technology has advanced across areas such as electronics and computing, the exact same is true of hand controls which are vital for disabled drivers.
MPS was one of the few manufacturer's to start building basic driving controls for vehicles, but ultimately its only been in the last decade that we've seen an explosion in both the quality and quantity of all the different designs.
If you've ever been disabled, even temporarily like myself, then you'll recognize that what you consider truly minor tasks now are impossible when you cannot walk. I spent 2 weeks in a Thai hospital where the nurses couldn't speak English, I was wearing a spinal brace, and I couldn't move my spine whatsoever. To make things worse the one doctor who could speak English competently told me I had a fractured hip to boot.
It's only when you have your freedom and independence taken away that you recognize the use for devices such as disabled hand controls.
I won't pretend for one second that I'm an expert in living a hard life with regards to being handicapped. I couldn't walk for a month, and then spend a month on crutches - that's nothing compared to the day to day struggles of people living with lifelong disabilities.
- You can learn more about hand controls for disabled drivers here.
Important Information Below...
Monarch Hand Controls
Handicap Hand Controls close up
The Main Hand Controls Manufacturers:
Each of these different companies has upsides and downsides that you could write a book on. But I think the most useful thing to do is simply to outline which of these handicapped driving controls is best suited to which person.
- Find out about handicap driving equipment manufacturers below.
- There's a little bit of confusion surrounding MPS Monarch. Both 'MPS' and 'Monarch' are names for the same manufacturer. Usually their models are referred to as 'Monarch Hand Controls' and the company itself is called MPS.
- They produce a modest array of decent quality and reasonably priced designs. If you're looking for the best then I'd look further down - but if you want the best compromise between good quality at prices which won'tcost you a small fortune then they're definitely worth looking into.
- Once you start to delve into the topic of hand controls you'll generally find that GuidoSimplex is one of the most innovate producers out there. Most tend to follow a very routine pattern of simply having metal linkage attached to hand controls that stretch down to the floor pedals. Is that the best we can do?
- The GuidoSimplex answer would be no, because they have Acceleration Wheels and Pens, massive flexibility with brake options including not just mechanical linkage options but also hydraulic designs.
- They're perfect for those who can still use one leg and just need an acceleration or braking device. For those who need both you can still use them in conjunction with each other, but the difference is that they cater for people who have less common disabilities.
Mobility Products and Design
- MPD have the widest range of products available out of all of the companies. You might instantly think this is a good thing, and in some ways it is - but on the other hand they do make things awfully difficult for the user. Scrolling through dozens of very similar controls all with slightly different number/letter combinations amounting in only very minute differences can really put you of searching through the models.
- One very pleasing aspect for U.S citizens is that they've signed a deal with Veigel who produce the best hand controls in the world (along with Menox below). This really opens up the U.S market to more advanced designs because there's a definitelack of more advanced technical homegrown models
- Menox along with Veigel most certainly produce what I like to call the best standard handicap hand controls. They're not as creative as GuidoSimplex and the products aren't really comparable. But they produce some easy to use, intuitive designs which can control secondary car functions such as turn signalling.
- Most certainly one of the best - but at a steep financial price.
Push Pull Handicap Hand Controls for Disabled Driving
How to choose what's right for you...
One of the best things to do is locate a disabled car dealership near where you live. In the USA this process will be much easier than in most other countries - even other developed nations.
There's generally a lot more choice in the US so if you're a resident then you're most certainly in luck.
The first thing you need to look at is whether your condition allows you to use one of your legs, or whether you need just hand controls.
Just remember that people with degenerative diseases who are slowly losing the use of their legs but can still use one, need to think long and hard whether it's worth buying a specific design which allows you to use one leg when you could potentially be losing hundreds or thousands of dollars when you're no longer able to use your leg. Just a thought.
Your budget. Most standard sets of hand controls are around 400 dollars including reasonable installation feeds but this depends on the specific car dealership. You can get cheaper second hand ones for around 200-250 dollars, or portable ones for 250-300 dollars. Obviously within GuidoSimplex there's a lot of variation but they're generally around 500 dollars at least. Veigel and Menox cost around 2000 dollars plus usually another few hundred dollars for installation because they take require more modifications to the car.
Jeff Gosling Hand Controls
Customizable Hand Controls
When it comes to the flexibility of being able to adjust your hand controls to suit your particular needs then it depends massively on the company which produces them, and from there the car dealership.
- A lot of handicapped drivers can be a little self conscious about their driving aids, so it's really important for a lot of people for theres to be as discreet as possible. Depending on who produces the controls you can change the following aspects. Firstly the color is one which most will be able to change for you, and this helps it blend into the color of your car. Second is the material which makes the lever and handle, (if your model has this) this, along with color, helps the designs to blend into the 'feel' of the car.
- There are several different options which can make the difference between a sore wrist and a happy customer. The most common changes you can make are between a long handle and a spherical knob. You can also change the 'feel' by either having smooth plastic or by having a padded covering. Some of the advanced hand controls (Menox/Veigel) have ergonomic handles on top of the main levers. These supposedly follow the natural contours of your hand allowing for a more restive position. So they say.
My recommendation is to go down to a car dealership which specializes in disability driving equipment (Google 'Hand Controls *state/city/location*) and then getting a feel for things as well. It's a little silly to expect people to be able to tell whether they want a knob or handle, you really need to take a grip of both and decide for yourself.
Portable Hand Controls for Cars
Portable Handicap Hand Controls
There are essentially three types of fittings for hand controls:
- There are permanent ones which can only be attached or removed by a mechanic or someone who really really know what they're doing (at their own risk).
- There are semi-permanent ones, where structural changes are made to the vehicle - but the control areas can be detached from these changes allowing a non disabled person to drive the vehicle.
- Finally there are portable controls which are attachable and detachable at will. These can be put in or taken of by anyone with limited car experience and a little practice (or the manual!)
Each has their own advantages and disadvantages but portable designs are very popular for a number of reasons. Firstly they're cheaper, but still get the job done. Secondly they allow for a car to be driven by multiple people who aren't disabled. It's a much cheaper option as opposed to having to purchase a new vehicle altogether. They're far better for the more occasional drivers where paying out hefty car and disabled insurance just isn't a reasonable option for occasional usage.
Disabled Driving in Action...
Disabled Driver's Poll
Which do you prefer..?
If there's one thing I want you to take away from this, it's that you need to open your eyes up to what's out there. There's a lot of choice, but it can be so hard to find. The information on products is scant at best and it can be difficult to match up what works for you - in other areas you just don't have this issue.
- Do your homework. Do an awful lot of Google searches - and don't stop looking until you've got what you're looking for - the chances are it's out there.
- Test what you're going to buy first, don't waste hundreds of dollars on something which doesn't suit you!
Good luck, and I hope that this has been informative for you and this hub in particular has been a pleasure to write.
Please do ask me questions below if you need any honest advice or an opinion!