Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Get the right car controls

Which car controls do you need?

  • First work out which controls you're going to have to adapt
  • Then find the right combination of adaptations for you
  • Make sure they're the easiest and most comfortable to use
  • Don't be put off by the variety of equipment - most people will only need very simple attachments.
  • Get expert specialist advice - contact a mobility centre

Talk to other drivers

Younger disabled drivers

Did you know that young people with disabilities could get their driving licence at 16, a year ahead of those who are not disabled? Get Going Live is an event in the UK where younger drivers can try adapted driving for the first time, and welcomes young drivers from the age of 15.

Find a specialist car adaptation supplier

  • It's important to have controls fitted by a specialist
  • The controls need to be safe and appropriate for you and the car
  • Specialists are more likely to make a neater job of it than someone who doesn't know the equipment
  • Some have local suppliers or fitters
  • Some will also be able to carry out regular maintenance checks for you

Go to our list of car adaptation supplier and fitters in the UK here

  • Contact two or three adaptation companies by phone for a general discussion about what you need and what they can do.
  • Get a broad idea of cost and ask about warranties and servicing.
  • Most have brochures and websites. If you can, go and visit them.
  • It's probably best, and certainly easier, to get all the adaptations you need from one company.
  • You can be reasonably confident that adaptation companies will not try to sell you any equipment that is not right for you.
  • Nearly nine out of ten people from a Rica survey described the adaptation company they had used as good.
  • If you've not had an assessment, the adaptation supplier can carry out some routine tests and discuss possibilities with you.
  • They don't make medical judgements but they may suggest a driving assessment at a local mobility centre.
  • If you're able to drive, the adaptation company is likely to be able to provide, adapt or make controls for you.
  • If the equipment they suggest doesn't meet your needs, contact a Mobility Centre to find a solution.
Important: be aware that adaptations are not checked as part of the MOT.

Try before you buy

  • It's wise to try before you buy, but difficult in practice.
  • Some Mobility Centres have test rigs that allow you to try out a range of controls.
  • Some car adaptation suppliers have a rig and most will have demonstration models of the main controls they supply.
  • Ask if they can show you equipment being fitted to vehicles they are working on at the time of your visit.
  • Visit the Mobility Roadshow¬† or Motability One Big Days
  • Disabled Motoring UK or disability organisations may be able to put you in touch with other disabled drivers to see their controls.
Don't judge by price alone. You may find that a more expensive control has features that far outweigh the difference in cost. A better control may make it much easier for you to drive with confidence.

Try after you buy

  • Try out the controls before you take the car home, in case they need fine tuning.
  • People in our car controls research report said that if the controls aren't comfortable, go to back to the specialist car adaptation supplier for them to be re-adjusted. Don't carry on driving if you're not comfortable.
  • One person recommended that you try and park the car as 'that should make any problems obvious.'
Tip: Spend time with the installer while they fit the controls to ensure your needs are met. Take care to check that the seating and posture are comfortable. If later you discover problems, ask the supplier to make adjustments.

Take your time to learn

  • Getting a feeling of confidence about driving and being in control may take time and practice.
  • Don't be put off trying - most people end up driving without difficulty or anxiety.
  • All car adaptation suppliers can show you how the equipment they fit works.
  • Some companies have off-road places for you to try their controls before you start driving on the roads.
  • Get some practice - find a specialist driving instructor for disabled drivers.
  • Find your local Mobility Centre.

Last updated: July 2017


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