Vehicle Modifications for drivers with disabilities

Having a disability or being the caregiver of a person with a disability is challenging on many levels. For most people, driving is a task that we take for granted. For someone with a physical disability, this can be incredibly difficult. 

The good news is that there are a number of vehicle modifications that will help disabled individuals enhance their weaknesses to be able to drive themselves. There are also many assistive technologies, such as harnesses and wheelchair lifts for caretakers helping those unable to drive themselves.

What modifications can be made to a vehicle?

  • Hand controls and steering devices, such as steering wheel palm grips and modified-effort steering
  • Steering column extensions
  • Adaptive ignition controls
  • Automatic door and window openers
  • Right-hand turn signals
  • Pedal or seat belt extenders
  • Siren detectors
  • Left-foot accelerators
  • Seat modifications
  • Raised roofs and dropped floors
  • Wheelchair lifts and ramps
  • Wheelchair tie-downs and carriers

How do you know what kind of modifications are needed?

A certified driver rehabilitation specialist is a professional who helps individuals explore their alternative transportation solutions. The role of a specialist is to help make a person confident in his or her ability to drive, feel comfortable on the road and to address any concerns related to driving a vehicle.

First, an assessment of a person’s abilities will be performed. Based on a person’s actual needs, this tells the specialist what equipment is needed. The assessments will be done of the following:

  • Vision
  • Physical capabilities
  • Medical history
  • Psychological state
  • Reaction times
  • Ability to operate a vehicle with adaptive equipment in traffic
  • Level of risk associated with the driver
  • Type of vehicle needed

Once the evaluation is complete, the process of making modifications to a vehicle begins. The specialist will also train the driver on how to drive using the adaptive equipment and can make adjustments accordingly. 

How to pay for adaptive technology

Unfortunately, some adaptive technology options are very expensive. In addition to the cost of the vehicle itself, hand controls can range from $500-$2,000 and powered lift systems can run up to $40,000. However, there are options for receiving aid to pay for your vehicle modifications.

In some situations, Medicare will pay for adaptive equipment. Special financing programs with flexible loan terms and other options can make vehicle adaption more affordable.  Private health insurance and workers’ compensation may offer help to offset the high costs, especially if the disability stems from a work-related injury. Some local nonprofit organizations also provide grant and assistant programs. 

Regardless of the type of vehicle modifications that you need, you’ll have a variety of options that will allow you or your loved one to continue to travel as needed without unnecessary stress or difficulties.

Hupy and Abraham hopes you all travel safe. In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is injured on the road due to the negligence of someone else, please contact us today at 1-800-800-5678 to learn more, or start a live chat with us anytime at

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.