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Adaptations Available for Disabled Drivers

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 18 Jun 2013 | comments*Discuss
Disabled Drivers Adaptations Motability

There is a wide range of adaptations available for disabled drivers. The purpose of these is to help as many disabled people as possible enjoy motoring.


If a disabled driver cannot leave a wheelchair, the addition of lifts allows him or her to enter a vehicle at the side or back. The driver can then place the wheelchair behind the steering wheel and lock the chair into place.

An option for drivers who can leave their wheelchair or mobility scooter is a swivel seat. It’s best to fit these in two-door vehicles because the doors are wide. Drivers can also have rotating seats they can lower and raise electronically.

Stowing Wheelchairs and Scooters

The best stowage systems for wheelchairs are automatic. They usually fit on the boot or on the roof of a vehicle.

Boot systems are often lifts that raise the wheelchair from the ground to the level of the vehicle. A disabled person can then take the chair into the back of the vehicle, attach fittings to prevent it moving, and move forward to the driving seat.

Roof systems work best with folding, manual wheelchairs. The system lifts the wheelchair automatically into a box on the roof. This keeps the wheelchair out of the vehicle and provides room for other luggage and equipment. It’s worth noting that a driver can operate a roof system by remote control.


Some disabled drivers have difficulty moving their upper bodies. This can lead to problems if they try to use a normal steering wheel.

There are two main alternatives. One is a steering wheel ball. This is a ball attached to the rim of the steering wheel. The driver uses the wheel with one hand by simply turning the ball in a circular motion to left or right.

The second option is to replace the steering wheel with an electronic joystick. Such joysticks often appear on motorised wheelchairs and work on a similar principle.

Accelerating and Braking

Some disabled drivers cannot use foot pedals. Instead, they can control speed and braking with a device attached to the steering column.

This device is usually a lever. The driver moves it up to accelerate, and down to brake. Some levers have different mountings, however. The driver can pull or push the lever to control the vehicle’s speed.

Other Adaptations

Among other adaptations are a left foot accelerator, a handbrake that’s simple to release, push button ignition and easy to change gears.

Disabled drivers can also have a remote control that operates a vehicle’s lights, horn, windscreen wipers and indicators.

Motability Scheme

Many companies can make the above adaptations. But anyone new to modified vehicles should seek advice first. One of the best sources for guidance is the UK’s Motability Scheme.

The scheme’s Motability Managed Adaptations Programme has a full list of modifications and prices. It has contacts with the best firms for carrying out the work. And if a disabled driver orders an adapted vehicle through the Motability Scheme, there’s no need to worry about the effect of modifications on insurance.

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