Media FAQs about Adaptive Driving

Connect with mobility experts and learn more about adaptive driving equipment.

Media FAQs

Learn more about the adaptive driving and the disability audience.
Learn more about the adaptive driving and the disability audience.

What is a disability?

According to the United Nations, people with disabilities is a term that applies to all persons with disabilities. This includes those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which can hinder their full participation in society on an equal basis with others. What kind of disabilities can people have and still drive a vehicle? People with many types of disabilities can drive with the help of vehicle modifications. In fact, you don’t have to have a disabling condition to benefit from a modified vehicle you may just have decreased mobility caused by a degenerative disorder or from the aging process. While not every disability can be accommodated, people with the following conditions can often take the wheel quite safely, even in wheelchairs:

  • Mobility issues due to stroke, heart attack, disease or degenerative disorders such as arthritis or RA.
  • Spinal cord and neck injuries, depending on location and severity.
  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Absent limb or reduced limb function.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Hemiplegia or paraplegia.
  • Muscular dystrophy.
  • Post/polio.
  • Neuromuscular diseases.
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Parkinson’s disease.

What kind of modifications and special equipment can help people with disabilities drive?

Today’s adaptive equipment is so technologically advanced that almost anyone can be outfitted to drive a vehicle. The Mobility Resource can help consumers find top-of-the-line wheelchair vans and trucks, along with ramps, lifts, and turning auto seating to help them get into and out of their vehicle safely. We can also help you with any adaptive driving equipment you may need, such as hand controls and reduced- or zero-effort steering and braking.

Can vehicles other than vans adapted?

Yes, you can also choose to have modifications made to select full-size GM pickup trucks. Specific equipment, such as turning auto seating and steering controls, can also be added to nearly any vehicle.

Can people drive while seated in their wheelchairs or scooters?

In many cases, people can drive while seated in wheelchairs with the help of a wheelchair restraint system and steering controls. However, many people choose to use a turning transfer seat to move from wheelchair to driver’s seat.

Driving from scooters is not recommended and is, in fact, an unsafe practice that would also be rather difficult to perform. People who use scooters for mobility must transfer from their scooters to the drivers’ or passenger’s seat for traveling in a motor vehicle.

What are turning automotive seats?

Turning auto seating comes in a variety of styles, all of which perform the same basic function: to transfer a persons from a wheelchair or scooter safely into a seat inside a car, van or truck.

What is adaptive driving equipment?

This term applies to any equipment added to a vehicle to make it possible for someone with a disability to drive or travel in it. These include hand controls, turning auto seating and wheelchair tie-downs.

What are steering controls?

Also referred to as car hand controls, steering controls transfer some of the functions of driving from the feet to the hands. They can be mechanical or power-supported. Mechanical hand controls allow the driver to operate a vehicle using handles, levers and pivot points to control the gas, brakes, turn signals and other driving functions. Primary hand controls operate the gas and brakes, while secondary controls operate windshield wipers, the horn, air conditioning and other functions.

Power-supported hand controls are for people who may need a little more assistance with driving.

Reduced-effort or zero-effort steering and braking make those functions easier for people with diminished strength. Other hand controls use electric, pneumatic or hydraulic support to the amount of effort required to drive. There are even drive-by-wire systems available, some of which operate vehicle functions with a joystick-like control.

Can adaptive driving equipment and lifts be removed after they’ve been installed?

Yes steering controls and turning automotive seating can be removed because they do not involve structural modifications to the vehicle itself. Scooter lifts can also be removed and reused on a different vehicle.

Can other people drive a vehicle that’s been outfitted with hand controls?

Most hand controls are designed so that they won’t interfere with the regular operation of the vehicle. This means other people can safely and comfortably drive a vehicle that has had hand controls installed. Only the most advanced drive-by-wire systems eliminate the ability to operate the vehicle in the standard fashion.

What does a wheelchair accessible vehicle typically cost?

Converting a van or truck to make it wheelchair accessible can run from $10,000 to $20,000 or more on top of the original price, depending on the number and types of accommodations made. So how can a person who has a disability afford such a vehicle? By combining government grants, OEM rebates and reimbursements, dealer promotions, private financing, veterans assistance and other available funding, a person can often cover most, if not all, of the cost of an adapted vehicle.