Handicapped Travel

Written by Norene Anderson
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Handicapped travel has been greatly facilitated by the technology that is available to assist with every aspect of driving. The use of touch pads, secondary controls, and extension levers has opened up great possibilities for even the most severely handicapped individual. There is even a voice-activated command for secondary vehicle functions such as turn signals, lights, horn, and others not directly related to acceleration, braking, or steering.

One part of handicapped travel that most people take for granted is the use of the emergency brake. You park, you engage the emergency brake, and you exit your vehicle. What if you cannot reach the emergency brake or do not have the strength to engage it? For those with good upper body strength, there are extenders that can be used. Otherwise, a powered parking brake device can be placed at the driver's convenience to be activated with a switch.

Handicapped Travel Made Easy

Some individuals may have the use of one leg or the other, but not both. If the left leg has the strength and control to access the accelerator pedal, it can be moved to the left side of the brake. This simply reverses the normal operation of the pedals. If the individual is unable to use the feet, hand controls can substitute for the brake and the accelerator.

These can be mounted under the steering column and can be a miniature steering wheel or can be designed as a joystick. Regardless of the design, all handicapped travel features should have built-in safeguards for muscle control issues such as spasms. The accelerator and the brake should be clearly defined to avoid accidentally activating the wrong one.

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