Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Hand controls

Rica's consumer information, aimed at older and disabled people, is based on independent research, the experiences of consumers and experts and is completely unbiased.

Hand controls for disabled drivers

Accelerating and braking in a standard car is usually done using foot pedals. If you can't operate pedals in the standard way, they can be adapted or replaced with hand controls.

  • Hand controls allow you to accelerate and brake, if you can't use your legs at all, or if you don't want to use a left-foot accelerator.
  • Some controls combine accelerating and braking in one control; others have separate controls.
  • You can also use an accelerator-only hand control with a foot brake, or vice-versa.
  • With many hand controls, the force needed to use them can be adjusted to match your strength.
Acknowledgement: Rica is grateful to Motability for permission to use the video below.

See more about hand controls on the Motability website here

Get local advice from a Mobility Centre and find car adaptation suppliers here

In January 2017, we held two workshops with new users of driving controls at QEF Mobility Services, Carshalton, Surrey. The research report which is intended for professionals advising disabled people, has useful comments and advice from disabled drivers: Go to Primary driving controls research report here.
  • Mechanical hand controls are connected to the pedals with rods.
  • Electronic accelerators are wired into the car's control systems, which means there is less to get in the way and also gives you more delicate control.
  • Electronic controls usually, cut out automatically when you apply the brake.
  • Some brake controls are connected directly to the car's hydraulic braking system, bypassing the pedals.

Where are hand controls mounted?

  1. on the steering column - see below
  2. on the floor to the left of the driver
  3. on the steering wheel - see under-ring and over-ring accelerators here
  • If you are using steering-column or floor-mounted controls, you'll also need a steering ball or spinner to allow you to steer one-handed
Push-pull hand control from Jeff Gosling
Push-pull hand control
Trigger control from Brig Ayd
Trigger control Some are also fitted with secondary controls for lights, indicators, windscreen washer and wiper, horn, cruise control and hill-start assist.

You may need to fit a guard to keep your feet out of the pedals (from around £100). If you need the leg room, you can fit folding or removable pedals (around £100 - £150).

Look for:

  • comfort  - check the hand control's shape, padding and how easy it is for you to use
  • where the control can be put and try out for warmth to the touch, lightness, range of movement and smoothness of operation
  • controls that are not tiring - check if you can rest your hand
  • easy grip - would it be OK on a long journey?
  • a good position - many people keep their thumb on the steering wheel and operate the lever with their hand. If you do this, look for a control that can be worked easily from this position on a long journey.
  • controls that don't get in the way of your knees or make it difficult to get into or out of the car.
  • controls that leave enough room for your feet. You may need to fit a pedal guard or install flip-up pedals to avoid the danger of pressing them accidentally or stopping them moving freely.
  • controls that don't stop other people driving the car.

Safety

  • Some controls are linked to parts of the car by rigid metal rods which could stop the steering column collapsing or could injure you in a crash, particularly if they are placed near your knees.
  • Look for protective guards or designs where the rods are hidden or placed well away from your knees.
  • If the controls are connected to parts of the car by metal rods, check with the supplier before adjusting the steering column, as this could bend the rods or alter their position, which could be dangerous. Sometimes the steering-column adjustment is disabled to prevent this.
  • Choose controls and develop a driving technique that allows you to reach and use all the secondary controls you need while driving.

Steering column mounted controls

  • can be mounted on either side of the steering column. 
  • for many, you pull a handle or trigger towards you to accelerate, and push to brake

Cars that have an automatic gear stick on the right of the steering column, a hand control for the brake has to be on the left-hand side of the steering column (because you have to apply the brake to change gear for reversing or parking).

Companies supplying steering column mounted controls
Supplier Product Price
Adaptacar Electronic twist grip low effort hand accelerator £1,380
Push/pull hand controls  £420
Push/pull with electronic accelerator  £1,380
Radial hand controls  from £850
Radial hand controls electronic  £1,143?
Alfred Bekker Push/pull hand controls £420
Brig Ayd Silverline push/pull hand controls from £420
Electronic trigger accelerator and brake  from £1,321
Pull up accelerator  £297
Push brakes  £292
Bristol Street Versa Fadiel electronic accelerator and brake £1,800
Manual brake  £585
Satellite accelerator  £1,445
Cowal Push/pull hand controls from £420
Elap Push/pull hand controls  from £430
Electronic trigger accelerator and brake  from £1,263
Radial accelerator with electronic push brake  from £1,667
Satellite handheld accelerator  from £1,552
Jeff Gosling Hand Controls Push/pull hand controls  £450
Jim Doran Hand Controls MPS radial hand controls from £720
McElmeel Push/pull hand controls from £420
PB Conversions Push/pull brake/accelerator £400
Ergomobility Push/pull brake/accelerator n/a
Prices shown were from the time of our research. For current prices, check with car adaptation supplier and fitters.

Floor-mounted controls

Menox Carospeed from ElapAlfred Bekker floor-mounted hand controlThese are vertical levers attached to the floor on your left. You pull back to accelerate, push to brake. A range of different grips is available.

The position of the control and the amount of force you need to use it are both adjustable. 

Some come with cruise control built in, so that you don't have to keep your hand on the lever. 

Because floor-mounted controls are mounted on the left of the footwell, they make it easier to get in and out, and for other drivers to use the car.

Companies supplying floor mounted controls

Supplier Product Price
Alfred Bekker Floor mounted brake/accelerator n/a
Elap Menox Carospeed from £800

Cruise controls and car technology

For controlling your speed, cruise control can help reduce fatigue, especially on long journeys. It's standard on some cars, and available as an extra on others. It can be fitted to most cars.

Last updated: June 2012


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