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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
caroln

Vehicle advice

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Hello everybody! I'm looking for advice on a new vehicle with hand controls. I was in an accident this summer where I got smacked by a hit and run semi and no longer have a car. Since it looks like I'm going to be in a wheelchair for a while, I was wondering if anybody had any advice as to the best vehicle to get and if I need to get a van with a lift, etc.

I was thinking I could get something not quite so big as a van and put the wheelchair in the back seat but I'm beginning to doubt if that will work. Especially during the nasty ND winters. I can just see me sliding under the car while trying to get from the back to front seats! Also, any idea if insurance covers any of the cost with changing the vehicle to hand controls? I've tried the left foot accelerator and it just didn't work for me. I almost took out a drive through at the Dairy Queen!

Thanks for any and all advice.

caroln

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Carol, I went car-shopping two years ago... I wound up getting a Chevy Aveo, which will hold my wheelchair if needed, and which is very comfortable to get into and out of one-legged. However, another car I test-drove at the time sounds like a better possibility for you:

Try out a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe! It looks like any other basic car on the road... but it has an unusual configuration of doors. The front doors are standard size and position, but the REAR doors are half-width "suicide" doors that are hinged at the rear of the car instead of the front.

When I tried loading my wheelchair in it, it was soooo simple: I just wheeled up to the car, opened both the front and rear doors, transferred to the driver's seat with my legs out the side of the car, folded my wheelchair, and rolled it up over the threshold and into the back seat. Since the rear door is only half-width, it was easy to reach over and close it while still sitting on the front seat. Then I just swung my legs inside, closed the front door, and I was ready to go!

The Aveo turned out to be better for my budget... but if I'd had a little more money available for a car payment, I would have bought the Saturn in an instant.

As for hand-controls, well, I've not needed those. However, I do know, from buying the Chevy, that GM offers customers with disabilities an allowance (it was $1,000 with the Aveo) to be used to help with any sort of "permanently installed accessibility/mobility assistive device." I assume that, if GM does it, the other manufacturers do as well.

Good luck with your car shopping!

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Caroln, I'm a RBKA and I use the left foot accelerator. I understand TOTALLY about almost taking out the drive through!! I've driven the 'normal' way for over 30 years and I had to completely re-wire my brain to use the left foot accelerator.

With use, it actually does become second nature to use the left foot accelerator. I've been driving this way since this spring and it has become easier and easier. I still have my moments, but they are becoming fewer.

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Hey Carol,

I had hand controls retro-fitted to my chevy cavalier about 2 months after my accident (the sooner I started driving the sooner my mother would move back home) ;) It sounds like you want a slightly larger vehicle than a 4 door sedan but I thought I would put my two cents in since I have had pretty good luck with it. I have a folding chair, so I transfer to the car and then break the wheelchair down and put it in the passenger side of the vehicle with the wheels in the back seat. I can also put the chair in the back seat along with the wheels but I would have to lean the seat back and lift the chair over my head which is a little more awkward.

If you have the strength and dexterity to break down a chair I would say that you probably don't need a lift. That would add a lot of complexity to driving in that you would have to always make sure that your parked in a place that had enough room to drop the lift. I cant tell you how many times people haven't been paying attention and pulled in too close to my car not allowing for the wheelchair, having a lift might leave you out in the cold a few times.

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Another note on insurance and hand controls. I tried to get insurance to pay for hand controls with no luck. Its probably different depending on the insurance but my insurance responded that they needed insurance codes which the installer did not have. I just left it at that and paid out of pocket, about $1000.

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Hi Carol - before I got my prosthesis, I had an SUV and couldn't get the wheelchair in the car. I think it was too high. I was able to get it in my daughter's van so I that's what I got - a Dodge Caravan. It was easier to get the wheelchair (and me) in and out. I have a left foot adapter and never really had a problem adjusting to it. I tried just driving with my left foot and that was doable but I feel the adapter is safer. Hand controls I know nothing about. Do whatever is comfortable for you.

Do you have any hope of getting a leg that will work any time soon?

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Hi.

I thought I would add my two cents in. I am a RBK amp and when I could finally drive about 4 months after the accident and frustrated with the handicap bus I went looking. I scourered the net and read about left foot controls and since I didn't think I would need them long I got them. Well little did I know that I would drive with them forever. I really like them. The adjustment was difficult at first and at time I paniced, but three years later I am glad that is what I chose. Today was my first adventure with a normal pedal pattern as I had to take a car while my is being repaired. I was dreading it, but it has not been bad at all--nothing I would choose long term, but for a week it is just fine. It also relieves my mind wondering what would I ever do if I needed to rent a car on a business trip--now I know I can survive.

I wish you all the best in your search. I truly believe you will find what suits you best.

Peace, Beth Marie

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this topic is what I have been trying to avoid but I also know that I can not depend on my wife to drive me and the kids around forever anyone looking to be a free showfer sorry about spelling LOL

no just kidding once again I have taking some great info from this forum and want to thank all for that info

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Carol,

When I started driving, my husband went with me to a large empty parking lot and I drove and drove and drove just to get accustomed to the left foot thing. I actually did this with no adapter, just left foot crossover. Maybe you could get someone to go with you and try it. You might get used to it sooner than you think. At least there wouldn't be a drive thru to take out :P

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I would try that but I do not think they allow you to drive with peddles when you are a double amp

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I would try that but I do not think they allow you to drive with peddles when you are a double amp

Probably not :P

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Thanks everybody. I can always count on you for great advice! It looks like I'm going to be without a leg until I have surgery again, and that won't be for another 8 months or so. I have used up all of my sick time for work and can't afford to take any other time off. I also am sending my x-rays to Oklahoma to get a second opinion before undergoing another surgery. Especially when it means cutting off more of my leg. I'm not thrilled about the wheelchair but I"ll deal with it. The worst part is not being able to drive. I agree with you all and am going to give the left foot accelerator another try.

THANKS!!

caroln

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Hi Carolin,

I hope you will like the left footed gas pedal. My car is in the repair shop all week and I have a loaner that does not have the left footed pedal and I am struggling. I do have a good prothesis, but trying to put my foot down on the gas is a challenge when I can't feel the pedal. java script:emoticon(':blink:', 'smid_8') I can't wait to Friday to have mine back.

Peace, Beth Marie

:blink:

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Hello everybody! I'm looking for advice on a new vehicle with hand controls. I was in an accident this summer where I got smacked by a hit and run semi and no longer have a car. Since it looks like I'm going to be in a wheelchair for a while, I was wondering if anybody had any advice as to the best vehicle to get and if I need to get a van with a lift, etc.

I was thinking I could get something not quite so big as a van and put the wheelchair in the back seat but I'm beginning to doubt if that will work. Especially during the nasty ND winters. I can just see me sliding under the car while trying to get from the back to front seats! Also, any idea if insurance covers any of the cost with changing the vehicle to hand controls? I've tried the left foot accelerator and it just didn't work for me. I almost took out a drive through at the Dairy Queen!

Thanks for any and all advice.

caroln

PEDALS WILL COME WITH PRACTICE

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Good luck, Carol. You can do it :)

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I am now a DBK and drive with hand controls, the push pull I think is the best. I lost my right leg first and tried driving with my left foot but the cross-over to the gas pedal was a chore. I didn't have use of the left foot pedal.

I had to go to a school here in New Hampshire and the course lasted maybe 1/2 hour. The first 15 minutes I drove using the push/pull method and the second half I tried the push/rotate method. The only problem with that is if I'm rotating the stick to apply the gas and have to apply the brake quickly the gas might still be applied and tires will spin.

I first had them installed in a minivan and now I have a SUV. I've tried to get in an out of the smaller cars but I have a problem. I need to step out and down not out and up out of a vehicle. My system was about $500 installed and my insurance paid for it.

Paul

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I would try that but I do not think they allow you to drive with peddles when you are a double amp

HI! Just wanted you to know that they do allow you to drive with peddles and without hand controls if you are a bilateral amp...at least below the knee bilateral.... According to the Department of Motor Vehicles this is fine as long as you have your legs on and you are physically able to do this. It takes a little bit of practice, just like everything else, but it is not difficult at all. Especially for those out there who were 2 footed drivers before their amputations...it isn't a difficult transition, you just learn to place your feet a bit differently and use your legs from the knees up a bit more.

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I would try that but I do not think they allow you to drive with peddles when you are a double amp

HI! Just wanted you to know that they do allow you to drive with peddles and without hand controls if you are a bilateral amp...at least below the knee bilateral.... According to the Department of Motor Vehicles this is fine as long as you have your legs on and you are physically able to do this. It takes a little bit of practice, just like everything else, but it is not difficult at all. Especially for those out there who were 2 footed drivers before their amputations...it isn't a difficult transition, you just learn to place your feet a bit differently and use your legs from the knees up a bit more.

I meant to spell it pedals...sorry :)

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I would try that but I do not think they allow you to drive with peddles when you are a double amp

HI! Just wanted you to know that they do allow you to drive with peddles and without hand controls if you are a bilateral amp...at least below the knee bilateral.... According to the Department of Motor Vehicles this is fine as long as you have your legs on and you are physically able to do this. It takes a little bit of practice, just like everything else, but it is not difficult at all. Especially for those out there who were 2 footed drivers before their amputations...it isn't a difficult transition, you just learn to place your feet a bit differently and use your legs from the knees up a bit more.

This isn't the case in the UK Flip, and my driving licence actually stipulates that I have to be driving with hand controls. I use the push/pull type for automatic cars and find this works fine, although I have never driven any differently so am quite used to it. Initially though, when I first learned to drive, my driving instructor (who said he had never taught an amputee to drive before) tried me using his dual control car, which was a manual, and I have to admit that although it was just about possible, the angle that I had to keep my legs at to operate the pedals was quite difficult and I should imagine quite tiring to keep up over any distance. It didn't work for me, and upon enquiry to the DVLA, learned that it wasn't allowed.

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I would try that but I do not think they allow you to drive with peddles when you are a double amp

HI! Just wanted you to know that they do allow you to drive with peddles and without hand controls if you are a bilateral amp...at least below the knee bilateral.... According to the Department of Motor Vehicles this is fine as long as you have your legs on and you are physically able to do this. It takes a little bit of practice, just like everything else, but it is not difficult at all. Especially for those out there who were 2 footed drivers before their amputations...it isn't a difficult transition, you just learn to place your feet a bit differently and use your legs from the knees up a bit more.

This isn't the case in the UK Flip, and my driving licence actually stipulates that I have to be driving with hand controls. I use the push/pull type for automatic cars and find this works fine, although I have never driven any differently so am quite used to it. Initially though, when I first learned to drive, my driving instructor (who said he had never taught an amputee to drive before) tried me using his dual control car, which was a manual, and I have to admit that although it was just about possible, the angle that I had to keep my legs at to operate the pedals was quite difficult and I should imagine quite tiring to keep up over any distance. It didn't work for me, and upon enquiry to the DVLA, learned that it wasn't allowed.

Hi Ann

I really don't have to keep my legs at any difficult angle, being a 2 footed driver, it's pretty easy. They do allow this in the USA as long as you are physically capable. Our Department of Illinois Motor Vehicle Department was very clear about it being acceptable

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ssible, the angle that I had to keep my legs at to operate the pedals was quite difficult and I should imagine quite tiring to keep up over any distance. It didn't work for me, and upon enquiry to the DVLA, learned that it wasn't allowed.

Hi Ann

I really don't have to keep my legs at any difficult angle, being a 2 footed driver, it's pretty easy. They do allow this in the USA as long as you are physically capable. Our Department of Illinois Motor Vehicle Department was very clear about it being acceptable

Must be different in the US than it is then here Flip. You might also be wearing different type feet to I was, as I found it very uncomfortable, had to more or less hold the feet up, and couldn't pivot between the pedals.

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Hello Caroln:

I drive using hand controls...........no problem. I also am aware of a couple of BKs who drive with their feet. As well, I am aware of two BAKs who drive using their prots and no modifications to their vehicles.

That aside............more important than what type of car to purchase, one needs to consider more, in my opinion..........the type of wheelchair one is to use.

If you own a beast.........it is a beast getting it in the car. A good chair should be as small as possible, low back if possible and have quick release axles for easy strip down and assembly.

ED

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