Understanding the accessible adaptations for disabled EV drivers

Being able to get on the road without assistance can give us greater independence and freedom. However, cars aren’t often built with the needs of disabled people in mind, and thus some adaptations may need to be made to allow drivers to get around safely.

There is already a gap between the number of licences owned by non-disabled people and disabled people in the UK. This guide for electric vehicle (EV) drivers with disabilities reports that just 55% of disabled people over the age of 17 hold a driving licence in the UK, whilst 83% of non-disabled people in the same age bracket hold a valid licence. It’s important that people are aware of the potential modifications that can be made to help give them the freedom to choose whether to drive or not.

Standard EVs can offer disabled drivers lots of benefits when on the road, from increased comfort to reduced noise. But just like with standard cars, some EVs will need to be adapted to better suit the needs of the driver. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most common adaptations that can be made to EVs, and detail how they can be used to create a more enjoyable and comfortable driving experience.

Hand controls

For people with limited use of their legs, hand controls can be a useful tool to help them drive safely without the need for pedals. The most common hand control will come in the form of a lever, which allows drivers to control the speed of the vehicle by moving it up and down. It’s important to note that this particular modification is only available in automatic vehicles. Since the vast majority of EVs are automatic, this will certainly be an adaptation worth considering if you have mobility issues in your lower body.

Pedal modifications

There are many different ways the pedals of an EV can be adjusted to make for a more comfortable experience. If a driver has trouble reaching the pedals, then detachable pedal extensions can be fitted in EVs to bring the pedals closer and thus provide greater control of the vehicle. Alternatively, if a driver has limited use of their right leg, floor-mounted or twin-flip accelerators can be installed to the left of the brake pedal, meaning that they can control the speed with their left foot.

Electronic accelerators

The standard push/pull levers that can help with acceleration and braking won’t be suitable for everybody, since they require a certain level of strength to operate. An alternative to the standard hand controls is electronic accelerators, which come in all different shapes and sizes. Depending on the style of electronic accelerator, they will be placed in different spots around the steering wheel.

One of the most popular styles is the trigger accelerator, which can be pulled with your finger to accelerate and pushed away to brake. This usually just requires a small amount of force, so will better suit drivers with reduced mobility in their fingers, hands and arms. Not only will this help to make getting from A to B that much easier, but with such little effort required, it can help stave off fatigue that can set in during long car journeys.