Driving With Hand Controls, A Cripple’s Guide

Published: Aug 18, 2017

Note: This post assumes you’re using the standard down‐for‐gas‐push‐for‐break hand controls on your vehicle combined with a steering nob.

Driving with hand controls can be complicated. Here’s a quick list of tips to make it easier:

Lock the Wheel

If you can manage to get in and out of your vehicle without moving the steering column, opt to have it locked in place when your hand controls are installed. This gives you a lot more flexibility when choosing the positioning of the hand controls and steering knob.

Use the Armrest

When driving with hand controls, rest your left elbow on the door and your right elbow on the console arm rest. Not only does this prevent your arms from getting tired during long drives, it also prevents you from accidentally hitting the gas and break at the same time when using the hand controls.

Pull the Gas / Break Lever Towards You When Accelerating and Push Up When Breaking

This will prevent you from accidentally hitting the gas and the break at the same time. How do you know if you’re hitting the gas and the break at the same time? Your tachometer will start to redline while your car goes nowhere.

Hone Your Muscle Memory

The key to mastering hand controls is mastering honing your muscle memory. With the car on and in park (you don’t want to do this with the car off or you might flood the engine), practice things like accelerating while turning on the blinker, wipers, and headlights or keeping a steady speed while adjusting the radio.

Learn to Drive with Your Thumbs

This technique works best if your left hand is being used for the gas/break and your right hand is used for steering. To do do something like adjust the radio or air conditioning while keeping the vehicle stable, press your left thumb into the steering wheel while keeping the palm of your left hand consistently pressed against the acceleration lever. This will free up your right hand to move off the steering column and do whatever needs to be done. It takes some practice, but it’s a good technique to master.