Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Making it easier to accelerate and brake

Menox Stamp extension set with raised floor from Elap
Pedal extensions

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 - see below.

However you are controlling your speed, you may find cruise control helpful to 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.

Check out our car technology page

Pedal extensions

If you can't reach the pedals, think about pedal extensions. You can get separate extensions for each pedal, or full sets that cover all pedals. Often pedal extensions are used with a platform to raise the floor.

Specialist companies supplying pedal extensions
Supplier Product Price
Alfred Bekker Bolt-on pedal extensions £65 each
Cowal Bolt-on pedal extensions from £55 each
Elap Menox Stamp - two- or three-pedal set with raised platform;
quick-release attachment to floor
n/a
Menox Mini Stamp - bolt on to pedals;
can be folded up out of the way of other drivers
n/a
Jim Doran Bolt-on pedal extensions from £100 each
Roland Kerr Pedal-Pal bolt-on extensions £81 per set unfitted

Left-foot accelerators

If you cannot use your right foot, you can fit a left-foot accelerator. There are four alternatives:

Quick-release accelerator from Brig Ayd
Quick-release accelerator
  • Floor-mounted pedals attach to the floor and cover the existing pedal. They can be removed to allow other people to drive the car.
  • Flip-up accelerators replace the existing pedal. You can choose to have the left or right pedal down.
  • A removable pedal is fitted on the left. The original pedal is modified so it can be removed or folded up.
  • An additional pedal is fitted on the left. A dashboard switch toggles between the two pedals.

You can fit left-foot accelerators to cars with organ-style pedals. These are usually more expensive.

It's important to note that left-foot accelerators take a lot of getting used to, especially if you have been used to driving an unadapted manual car. There have been a number of accidents involving drivers who are unfamiliar with them. You must have a professional driving assessment before ordering a left-foot accelerator and take lessons with a qualified instructor before you start to use one on the road.

Specialist companies supplying left-foot accelerators
Supplier Product Price
Adaptacar Sojadis left-foot accelerator - removable, electronic from £604
Floor-mounted accelerator - quick release; includes pedal guard from £411
Alfred Bekker Left foot accelerator - folds flat when not in use £322
Quick-release left-foot accelerator £375
Twin flip accelerator - flips up £375
Brig Ayd Electronic left-foot accelerator £604
Floor-mounted pedal transfer £280
Twin flip folding left-foot accelerator £375
Cowal Electronic left-foot accelerator - switch on dash  £580
Twin flip folding left-foot accelerator from £375
Premier twin-flip - organ style £520
Elap
Menox left-foot accelerator
n/a
Menox quick-release accelerator
n/a
Quick-release left-foot accelerator £375
Jeff Gosling Twin folding left-foot accelerator from £375
Electronic left-foot accelerator - switch on dash £700
Jim Doran Left-foot accelerator £450
Organ type £520

Hand controls for driving

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 of these 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.

Get expert advice

To find controls to suit you, contact:

  • your nearest Mobility Centre
  • some adaptation companies/equipment suppliers to arrange a demonstration or to find a local installer
In January 2017, we ran two workshops with new users of driving controls at QEF Mobility Services, Carshalton, Surrey. The resulting findings are presented in a research report, intended for professionals advising disabled people on their motoring choices. Go to Primary driving controls research report, 2017 (PDF) 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. Usually, these cut out automatically when you apply the brake. Some brake controls are connected directly to the car's hydraulic braking system, bypassing the pedals.

Push-pull hand control from Jeff Gosling
Push-pull hand control
Trigger control from Brig Ayd
Trigger control

Some hand controls are also fitted with secondary controls for lights, indicators, windscreen washer and wiper, horn, cruise control and hill-start assist.

Hand controls are usually mounted on the steering column, on the steering wheel or on the floor to the left of the driver. 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.

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. This depends on the control's shape, its padding and its ease of use. Find out where the control can be put. Try it out for warmth to the touch, lightness, range of movement and smoothness of operation. See if you can rest your hand, or if gripping it for a long time would cause problems.
  • Controls that are not tiring.
  • 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 do not 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 do not stop other people driving the car. All controls that Motability supplies aim to do this. Controls must be unobtrusive enough to allow others to drive the car and be of a type that can be removed or switched off.

Safety:

  • Some controls are linked to parts of the car by rigid metal rods. These 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 in which 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

These controls can be mounted on either side of the steering column. Note that some cars with automatic transmission have gear selectors on the right of the steering column. This means you need a hand control for the brake on the left-hand side of the steering column (because you have to apply the brake to change gear for reversing or parking). For many of these, you pull a handle or trigger towards you to accelerate, and push to brake.

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

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

Steering wheel mounted controls

Kivi K5 under-ring accelerator from Elap
Under-ring accelerator

Steering wheel mounted controls are electronic control rings mounted over or under the steering wheel. You squeeze the ring to accelerate - either pushing it or pulling it towards the steering wheel.

These are usually used with a steering column mounted brake. Because they are electronic, they don't need mechanical linkages and they give you smoother control. 

Other advantages of these systems are that you can keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times and that they don't interfere with the other controls.

Companies supplying steering wheel mounted controls
Supplier Product Price
Elap Kivi K5 Under-ring accelerator n/a
Kivi K0 Over-ring accelerator n/a
Over-ring electronic accelerator from £1,825
Under-ring electronic accelerator from £1,825
'The Ghost' rotary under-ring control from £1,925

Last updated: June 2012


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