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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
SusanI

RAK......Suggestions for Driving? Being retested to drive?

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Hi Everyone! :)

Since I'm only 3 weeks post amputation, and since I still don't have a leg, I'm not quite ready to be driving, but I'm thinking ahead and wanted to see how others have dealt with this issue. I have talked to one person who just drives with his left leg. I have also seen an adaptation where the gas petal is placed on the left side of the brake. I'm looking forward to getting back to driving and wanted to know what has worked for others.

Also, I have heard mixed things as to whether or not I need to be retested for driving. Apparently there is no law that says someone can't drive with their left leg, but one person I spoke to said that it was a good idea to get retested with Motor Vehicle because I could possibly be liable in an accident....even if it wasn't my fault...if I haven't been retested.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? How hard is it to learn to drive with your left leg?????

Thanx,

Susan

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Hi Susan. I'm RBK and use the left foot adapter. It works great for me. I started out driving with my left foot but I really feel that this is safer. I don't know if you're supposed to be retested or not. I just started driving, renewed my license on line, you can do it every other renewal here if your address is still the same. I also started driving before I was using my prosthetic. Good luck.

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The laws would be different I guess, but here in the UK you would need to inform the licencing authority, they decide whether you need a retest. I drive standard automatics with my left leg with no adaptions and have been doing for over twenty years... I'm a RAK.

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It would pay to check on the laws where you live. In New Zealand, I had to be tested to see if I could handle a left foot accelerator - which I found really easy. Some people apparently have great difficulty in using their left foot on the accelerator. I used to do a bit of rally sprinting, motorkhanas and hill climbing and used to do some left-foot-brakking which probably helped me.

After about a year after getting my leg I got retested to be able to drive a manual transmission with no modifications. I had no trouble here either, but it would depend a lot on how well your prosthesis fits.

In all cases I was "tested" by an occupational therapist to see how well I coped. It was by no means a driving test to test my driving ability or knowledge of traffic rules.

Although I can drive a manual transmission car I still use an automatic with left foot pedal for most of my driving as it is easier, especially in traffic.

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It would pay to check on the laws where you live. In New Zealand, I had to be tested to see if I could handle a left foot accelerator - which I found really easy. Some people apparently have great difficulty in using their left foot on the accelerator. I used to do a bit of rally sprinting, motorkhanas and hill climbing and used to do some left-foot-brakking which probably helped me.

After about a year after getting my leg I got retested to be able to drive a manual transmission with no modifications. I had no trouble here either, but it would depend a lot on how well your prosthesis fits.

In all cases I was "tested" by an occupational therapist to see how well I coped. It was by no means a driving test to test my driving ability or knowledge of traffic rules.

Although I can drive a manual transmission car I still use an automatic with left foot pedal for most of my driving as it is easier, especially in traffic.

You're a right BK though, without a knee (RAK) driving a manual without any mods would be impossible. (I know I should never use that word, someone will say they can do it! let's try inadvisable/not very easy then... ) ;)

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You're a right BK though, without a knee (RAK) driving a manual without any mods would be impossible. (I know I should never use that word, someone will say they can do it! let's try inadvisable/not very easy then... ) ;)

quite right. I had missed the RAK part in the initial post.

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Hi Susan

My amputation happened when I was very young so I learned to drive with my left foot from the start. It can be a problem with different cars due to placement of pedals but I find the Japanese cars are easiest for me. Never tried the left accelerator adaptor but it could be an idea.

OBL - my uncle (LAK) occasionally drives his farm vehicles which are manual using a walking stick for the clutch.....yikes! :rolleyes: I wouldn't advise this though!

HTH!

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By the way, Mandy's comments about pedal placements made me think. For years I was a bit uncomfortable because my right leg (the artificial one) dug in at the front sometimes. I then got a turntable (or rotator) and my problems were solved. I now bend my leg at the knee when I get in the car such that my right foot is folded underneath my left leg. This has the effect that I don't get the discomfort I mentioned and my foot/leg doesn't get in the way. With the lower half of the leg bent through a plane 90deg from that which the knee normally bends in when walking, I no longer have any discomfort whilst driving.

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By the way, Mandy's comments about pedal placements made me think. For years I was a bit uncomfortable because my right leg (the artificial one) dug in at the front sometimes. I then got a turntable (or rotator) and my problems were solved. I now bend my leg at the knee when I get in the car such that my right foot is folded underneath my left leg. This has the effect that I don't get the discomfort I mentioned and my foot/leg doesn't get in the way. With the lower half of the leg bent through a plane 90deg from that which the knee normally bends in when walking, I no longer have any discomfort whilst driving.

I'm pretty sure my leg will have a rotator in it. I'll have to play with it's placement when driving.

I may try driving a little on my driveway/street (pretty quiet) this weekend just using my left leg with the regular gas petal. I am open to using the left gas petal extention, but want to try this also.

I think I have a few of my friends a bit scared.....one legged woman out driving with her left foot!

Wish me luck! :)

Susan

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More food for thought...

My father is RAK/LBK and drives without any mods. I asked him about it and he says he just places his right foot into position and "shifts" his pelvis to control the accelerator. He uses his left for the brake. He says he can even drive a standard, but it's complicated and he avoids it.

A quick, funny story:

This summer, I was mowing. Although I bought the mower new, it was @12 seasons ago. So, I was having a problem with the mower going fast enough. I had it in 7(top gear), but it only went like it was in 3. I made a turn and, all of a sudden, it took off going WAY too fast and down hill! I bounced around trying to "place" my foot (LAK) on the clutch/brake pedal, but couldn't. Plus, the spring is just almost too strong. I was flying down the hill, headed straight for the fence. To avoid the fence, I turned the wheel sharply and CLUNK!! the steering came loose. So, I came flying down the hill, no brakes, no steering, and hit the pasture fence staight on. I ducked to keep the top strand (barbed wire) from cutting my head off. When I hit the fence, it just stetched like a big rubber band and stopped me. WOW! What a ride! :angry: :lol: :lol:

OK, I'll shut up now. But I just had to... :D

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A quick, funny story:

This summer, I was mowing. Although I bought the mower new, it was @12 seasons ago. So, I was having a problem with the mower going fast enough. I had it in 7(top gear), but it only went like it was in 3. I made a turn and, all of a sudden, it took off going WAY too fast and down hill! I bounced around trying to "place" my foot (LAK) on the clutch/brake pedal, but couldn't. Plus, the spring is just almost too strong. I was flying down the hill, headed straight for the fence. To avoid the fence, I turned the wheel sharply and CLUNK!! the steering came loose. So, I came flying down the hill, no brakes, no steering, and hit the pasture fence staight on. I ducked to keep the top strand (barbed wire) from cutting my head off. When I hit the fence, it just stetched like a big rubber band and stopped me. WOW! What a ride! :wub: :lol: :lol:

OK, I'll shut up now. But I just had to... :D

WOW! Glad you didn't get your head cut off!!! The doctors can't do anything about that one I think!!!!!

Brings up an interesting topic idea. All the strange things that have happened to us due to having an amputation. There's so much that I have to look forward to....YIKES!!

Susan

PS BTW, I had my second day in my test socket yesterday. Also tried on a c-leg and had a little go with it on the parallel bars. (had to use one of the prosthetist's shoes as I had only brought my left one) I think I will be getting my first socket next week. They told me to bring two shoes! I think they said they use carbon fibers to make the socket. Sounds pretty cool! :blink::huh: :D

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In my state (California) the authorities did an analysis of accidents and concluded that amputees have FEWER accidents than the general population, do no special tests are required.

I drive a Nissan Quest and my biggest problem is hoisting my rear end into the driver's seat.

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My father is RAK/LBK and drives without any mods. I asked him about it and he says he just places his right foot into position and "shifts" his pelvis to control the accelerator. He uses his left for the brake. He says he can even drive a standard, but it's complicated and he avoids it.

I'm the same (RAKA, LBKA) and drive using the left foot for brake and right for gas. I utilize the 2nd mode of the C-leg for driving. Basically, I have the flexion of the leg stopped at a certain angle. That way, I can quickly pick the leg up off the accelerator when I need to get off the gas. To accelerate/decelerate I just raise and lower my residual leg (flexing the "knee"). It took a little getting used to, and some trial-and-error to find the right "angle", but now I'm perfectly comfortable. The only tricky bit is getting into and out of the car with the C-leg in second mode (I salivate at the mention of the new C-leg with the remote control to switch modes). Also, the angle I have "set" is unique to my car, and I have to pull out the laptop and change it if I want to dry something else.

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Hi,

I just got your questions about driving (it is 29 March 2007) but I see you asked in Dec. I am very very new on this list and I am trying to figure it all out--I am pretty good at computers, but....

I too am a new amputee (four months) though I have been driving with a left footed gas peddle for three years since I went through 4-5 surgeries after my accident with no success. It was vital that I could get back driving. I really like the left footed peddle and find it fairly easy. I live in Canada, so it may be different. I was told that if I drove with my left foot I most likely would be liable in an accident, but I did not need retesting for the left footed peddle.

Recently I have been thinking about the advisability of getting hand controls mainly because it is almost impossible to rent a car with a left footed peddle. I travel a fair bit my my job and at times I need to rent a car to get to the more rural points where are students internl.

I hope this gives you something to think about.

Peace, Beth Marie

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Welcome to the forum Beth Marie :)

Cat

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Hi,

I just got your questions about driving (it is 29 March 2007) but I see you asked in Dec. I am very very new on this list and I am trying to figure it all out--I am pretty good at computers, but....

I too am a new amputee (four months) though I have been driving with a left footed gas peddle for three years since I went through 4-5 surgeries after my accident with no success. It was vital that I could get back driving. I really like the left footed peddle and find it fairly easy. I live in Canada, so it may be different. I was told that if I drove with my left foot I most likely would be liable in an accident, but I did not need retesting for the left footed peddle.

Recently I have been thinking about the advisability of getting hand controls mainly because it is almost impossible to rent a car with a left footed peddle. I travel a fair bit my my job and at times I need to rent a car to get to the more rural points where are students internl.

I hope this gives you something to think about.

Peace, Beth Marie

Hi Everyone,

To update, I have been driving with my left foot. Here in NJ, there apparently is no law that says that you can't drive with your left foot, though some recommend getting retested.

I did speak to a RAKA who has been an amputee for about 20 years. She said that she always fills out the license form saying yes she is an amputee. Last year for the first time, they told her she needed to come in and be retested. Since she drives with her left foot, and doesn't use an extension, they didn't know what to do with her. They finally settled on giving her restrictions on her license: 1. She can't drive a semi-tractor trailer and 2. Can't drive a manual.

Here, to get a left footed extension installed, I would need a note that says it is medically necessary. I didn't want that restriction on my license. (partially because of the rental issue) I may get retested using my left foot, and possibly I may also end up getting a left footed gas petal as some point, maybe the portable one....only because the outside of my left foot feels strained a bit by needing to cross over to use the regular gas petal. (I've really been driving a lot....which feels good....) :P

Susan

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Hi Susan,

It's all in what you feel comfortable doing. I'm a lbka and I drive a vw jetta with a 5 speed manual. As soon as I got my first leg, I went out and got in my old jeep with a 3 speed and gave it a whirl. It took me a dozen times driving to feel sure of old "peggy". I have had some automatics but I really enjoy shifting and driving. So the only thing I can say "If at first you don't succeed, try another way,lolol" Have a great day and talk to you soon. Jerry

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Beth and Susan

My amputation is a Right Below the Knee. I can drive anything on the road (or off), that I used to drive. Cars, trucks, tractors (farm), Whatever.

I ask people to try taking a pencil in hand, and with their eyes closed, touch something with it (like a salt shaker or coffee cup), and then describe it. "Feel it", with the pencil.

That is the same way with driving. I can "feel" the brake and the gas pedal. Instead of an ankle, I use my knee as the fulcrum. Now I have no idea how this works for the AKA. I can only relate my experience as a BKA. I am from the old school - before the automatics. And I learned to drive on a farm tractor and then the lumber delivery truck in our family lumber yard. So using my prosthetic on the gas and my left on the brake is just like using a clutch and gas. When I am driving a manual shift however, I use my left for the clutch and my right for gas and brake. No problem

The main difference is that the heel is placed on the accelerator pedal. Then I place the heel down on the floorboard now and then to rest my leg. Out on the road I use the cruise control, and rest my "foot" off to the side.

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Hi,

I am also a RBK and although the amputation is only about 5 months old I have been driving with a left foot accelerator for 3 years as my right ankle was smashed and any pressure was too painful. It too me about 10 days to get use to it and about 2 months to feel comfortable that I was not going to hit the gas by mistake. Since then it has been a life saver as I need to drive with my job.

Hope you "hit the road" soon.

Peace, Beth Marie

Saskatoon, SK

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HI All,

Sorry I ended up posting twice to this question. I still don't understand the digest as it seems to operate very differently than other forums I am on. I seem to get the same message day after day. Does anyone know how it works??

Peace, Beth Marie

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That is the same way with driving. I can "feel" the brake and the gas pedal. Instead of an ankle, I use my knee as the fulcrum. Now I have no idea how this works for the AKA.

The problem I have being a RAK is that I don't have control over the knee joint to transfer from one pedal to the other... it's just easier using an automatic for me, with my left foot.

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My "suggestion", (since I try never to give advice), is to try different ways. It is just as easy to learn something a "right" way as it is the "wrong" way. The "right" way, may be different for you than it is for me.

DO WHAT EVER IS THE MOST COMFORTABLE AND SECURE FOR YOU. SAFETY COMES FIRST.

I used to drive milk trucks, (In the late 1950's) Standing up. No automatic. Picture trying to get off of a highway (no freeways then), on a curve, downhill, wilth a stop at the bottom. You have to put one foot on the clutch, to shift down, one on the brake, all the while keeping your balance to turn the wheel. Oh yes, the pedals were "hanging" down, so you had to "step up" to reach them. Sitting down, you just raise you leg - but standing, both feet had to be in the air at the same time - again, while turning and balancing.

(The trick was to rock back on your heels and catch the pedals with your toes.)

The point is that anything can be learned. With me in the milk truck, it became a "dance". I had to learn a whole new way of driving. Much like we have to with only one "active" leg.

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HI All,

Sorry I ended up posting twice to this question. I still don't understand the digest as it seems to operate very differently than other forums I am on. I seem to get the same message day after day. Does anyone know how it works??

Peace, Beth Marie

Beth Marie, I'm also pretty computer-literate and I also find this forum very difficult to use. All depends on what you're used to, I guess. The best I've been able to figure out is to click on "View New Posts" and go through them that way. I still don't know how to know if someone has responded to one of my posts.

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HI All,

Sorry I ended up posting twice to this question. I still don't understand the digest as it seems to operate very differently than other forums I am on. I seem to get the same message day after day. Does anyone know how it works??

Peace, Beth Marie

Beth Marie, I'm also pretty computer-literate and I also find this forum very difficult to use. All depends on what you're used to, I guess. The best I've been able to figure out is to click on "View New Posts" and go through them that way. I still don't know how to know if someone has responded to one of my posts.

When you post a reply there's an option that you can tick 'enable e-mail notification of replies' or something like that... just click it and you get an e-mail when an anything is posted in that thread....

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