For some older or disabled drivers who have trouble handling the steering wheel, there's a range of solutions to help with steering.
Rica is grateful to Motability for permission to use the video below.
Steering ball or spinner
The simplest adaptation is a steering ball or spinner attached to the steering wheel so you can drive one-handed.
- come in a variety of shapes to suit different types of grip
- are designed to be used with your hand vertical, others horizontal, and others include wrist supports.
- cost between £30 and £110+
Spinners are often combined with keypads to work the secondary controls - lights, indicators, etc. Some have a quick release, so they can be easily removed when someone else is driving the car.
- comfort - if gripping is painful, look for softer materials
- shapes that don't obstruct your view of the dashboard
- fittings that don't catch on clothes when turning
Custom built steering solutions
The more complex they are, the more expensive. Expect to pay at least £4,000, and considerably more for complex systems.
- steering controls that you can use without tiring, either because of the force you need to operate them or because you need to maintain an uncomfortable posture
- controls that allow you to use your full range of movement - this will give you more control
- make sure you can control the steering system properly on the road, when you may need to react quickly to hazards
- as with all specialist control systems, ensure you have a proper assessment and training before you use one of these
- modifying the steering wheel can affect the performance of airbags
- need only a very small amount of movement - the range and the strength needed can be adjusted
- with more complex systems allow you to steer, brake and accelerate with a single joystick, which can be placed in any position that suits you
- work by pushing the joystick from side to side to steer, pull it back to accelerate and push it forwards to brake
- have speed-sensitive steering, which adjusts the action and feel of the joystick to your speed.
- make parking and manoeuvring easier
- can be switched off if someone else is driving.
Foot steerers are turntables or treadles. You may need to have the power steering lightened. Some turntables need to be used with an adapted shoe.
Mini steering wheels
- come in various sizes and are usually custom built to suit you.
- are for people who have little strength or very restricted movement.
- need to be fitted in the best position for you.
- can often be fitted so they move out of the way to make it easier to get in and out of the vehicle.
- can also be combined with a joystick for controlling your speed.
- Steering with a tiller needs less movement than a steering wheel
- are easier for some people who find the horizontal grip easier to use.
- can sometimes provide you more stability.
- can be fitted with other controls, including accelerator, main brake and parking brake.
- can be adjusted for the force needed and range of movement that a driver has
- with a two-handed tiller you might twist the handle to accelerate and push the tiller forwards to brake,
- with a one-handed tiller you might twist the grip to accelerate and squeeze the lever to brake.
Suppliers of steering adaptations
|Bristol Street Versa|
|DS&P Mobility Electronics|
|Jim Doran Hand Controls|
Last updated: June 2012