How In-Car Technology Can Help Drivers With Disabilities
Built-in car technology has advanced considerably over the past decade, many of these developments can facilitate the lives of all drivers, including those with disabilities.
Rear-facing cameras provide the driver with superior visibility, making it easier to back in and out of tight spots and parking sensors alert the driver to any obstacles in the way.
This integration allows the driver to use a mobile phone from the driver’s seat completely hands-free and access music, contact lists and read messages etc.
A hands-free car boot is especially helpful for those with weaker upper limbs, allowing them to easily open the boot.
Keyless entry consists of an electronic lock without the need for a traditional key – most keyless systems use a push-start button system to start the car, again facilitating entrance to the vehicle.
Electric Parking Brake
Instead of using the traditional lever-style hand brake, the electric parking brake maintains the vehicle in a stationary position, whilst the driver activates the brake by a mere push of a button, ideal for those with weakness in their hands.
Gone are the days where drivers needed to pull over to read a map, built-in sat navs provide easy navigation as well as updates on traffic situations ahead.
The following features and form part of a wider Collision Avoidance System (CAS).
Autonomous Cruise Control (ACC)
This uses a type of radar system to track vehicles ahead and adjust speed accordingly. Regular cruise control holds the vehicle at a steady speed until the driver intervenes, ACC however, slows down or speeds up the vehicle depending on what the car in front is doing. This is very helpful in reducing fatigue.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
AEC engages and slows down the vehicle or brings it to a complete stop if the vehicle ahead is getting too close, or if a pedestrian, animal or other object appears in front of the car.
Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
With LKA, the car is steered away from road markings, helping to avoid accidents.
Follow Distance Warning (FDW)
Follow distance warning alerts drivers, when the gap behind the vehicle is reducing too quickly.
Specific vehicle adaptations enable a person to drive who may otherwise not have been able to – there are two main types of adaptation, primary adaptations – these refer to acceleration, braking, steering and gear change, and secondary adaptations which control functions such as wipers, headlights, indicators, air con etc.
Adaptations may vary from simple attachments to the replacement of driving controls with a specifically designed system to suit the individual.
These are designed for those unable to use the standard foot pedals, providing them with the ability to be able to use push/pull hand controls. Traditionally hand controls are designed in the form of a push-pull lever, although there are also some compression or electronic systems available.
Providing a good alternative to help those with lower limb disabilities as well as some upper body weakness, electronic accelerators can also be adjusted to suit varying individual requirements.
Left Foot Accelerators
There are a wide range of left foot accelerators including twin flip, electronic or floor mounted.
Steering aids are designed to assist drivers with limited mobility in their upper bodies, this type of aid can make general manoeuvring, parking and driving much safer.
Secondary Control System
There are various types of secondary control systems available on the market which are used to control functions such as indicators, the horn etc. these can be fitted to suit individual needs and some systems can be voice-activated.
There are already many trials for self-drive cars, these could have a major impact on how people go about their daily lives, as well as the potential to provide a greater level of independence for people with disabilities. The possibility of self-drive cars could revolutionise how disabled people travel around their communities, opening up employment opportunities and making it easier to socialise. The very concept of self-driving cars provides a new way of thinking about transportation and accessibility.
Voice activation is currently not widely available and where available, systems are expensive to install. This may change in the future however, voice activation would be extremely helpful for drivers with disabilities, allowing them to essentially perform a variety of driving tasks all by voice activation.
How We Can Help
All Shropshire Mobility provide a long-standing vehicle adaptation service based in the Shropshire region, we offer a bespoke service and also have demonstration equipment allowing our customers to view and try out equipment before purchase. For more advice with vehicle adaptations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.