Are you or someone you know new to a wheelchair? Many things in life have and will continue to change from your daily routine. One of the areas of possibility for many is driving again or even for the first time. There is a surplus of technology now for accessible driving including hand controls and aids for standard and adapted vehicles.
But first, what are hand controls and how do they work? Simply put, hand controls are categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary hand controls assist with the functioning of steering, gas and brakes whereas secondary hand controls help with shifting gears, blinkers and windshield wipers. They will be bolted to the pedals and attached to the steering column. It is crucial that you know all the resources available so that you get exactly what you want and need. Check out the top three tips below to start driving with hand controls.
Each individual is going to have different needs and getting the right hand control system requires some research and a few helpful resources. It is easy to search for these products on the web for basic information but the best and most comprehensive way to learn more is to contact your local mobility dealer, which can be located on BLVD.com. They will have the knowledge of the options available and provide insight on practical application.
Your dealer will be a great partner through this entire process and will be your go to on questions before, during and after you get your hand controls in
stalled. They can refer you to a driver evaluation program which will be able to determine which system you will need and is described more in the next section. Once
the right hand control system is selected, installation is conducted by the dealer and can take approximately 4-8 hours depending on what you are getting. Your dealer will ensure that they are custom fit to your needs and provide test drives so that driving the vehicle with hand controls is to your liking and comfort.
Your local mobility dealer will also be able to connect you with a local driver evaluator program which is a key part of the process. The certified driver evaluators will be able to pinpoint what you need and provide the recommendations to the dealer so you get exactly what you need…no more, no less.
This evaluation includes training will also give you the confidence to drive with the recommended system. It is important to note that it is still required for the driver using the installed hand controls to pass a standard driving test before he or she can hit the road.
There are different styles and configurations of hand controls on the market and it is best to consult with your local mobility dealer and driver evaluator to determine which one is right for you. They will help you to get to know the functionality of each type of hand control and the benefits or drawbacks.
Be sure to ask about the wide range of costs associated. Overspending on hand controls is easy to do if you don’t ask the right questions. For instance, you can spend up to three times as much on the more advanced hand controls systems. Now these systems, like the MPD 3700, are great and offer a lot of benefits but may be more than you need. You could save up to $2,000 for the classic MPD 3500.
Keep in mind that installing hand controls does not limit the functionality for the vehicle to be driven normally. The original gas and brake pedals will still be accessible and functional. Many systems offer a quick release which are easy to pop on and off allowing for other styles to be reinstalled without a visit to your dealer. A nice safety feature is a “lockout” mode that will disable the hand controls so if your 16 year old son or daughter take the vehicle out they won’t be able to try to drive with them.
There are also high end options available for luxury or sports cars that keep the aesthetics intact and keep you driving your dream car. These stylish and functional options would make you proud to install in your Corvette!
Above all, we at BLVD want you to be comfortable and confident using hand controls! Be sure to visit BLVD for more information on hand controls, mobility dealers, and more wheelchair accessible resources.