The aim: steering one-handed and driving without having to grip with the right hand. (Disclaimer, I have two hands, but one can’t be trusted to turn the steering wheel safely).
After some research on the Motability website and getting cleared to drive by the DVLA (see ‘Adapting my Car for Hand Disability: Timeline‘). I was ready to start adapting my car.
Choosing the steering aids
I did all my research online with the help of Motability online resources. If there hadn’t been a pandemic I would have preferred to try a range of aids in person as I had a bit of trial and error to find the best steering spinner and indicator extension. Steering spinners bolt onto the wheel and rotate so the driver can keep turning without letting go. An indicator extension allows control of the lever from the other side of the wheel. Having help to fit these tightly was essential as I couldn’t have done it by myself (thanks family). These steering aids, along with automatic transmission enable me to steer left-handed, while my right hand controls the indicator and windscreen wipers without the need to grip anything.
Not for me: The steering peg (£59 + £6 postage with VAT exemption, Alfred Bekker)
I liked the quick-release feature, and it felt sturdy and well made. Unfortunately the angle for my wrist didn’t feel comfortable and it was difficult to turn the wheel by pushing upwards. It also stuck out from the steering wheel more than expected (~15cm) so I had to sit further back. This might not be such a problem if you have long legs. (Hex key needed but not included).
Other variants of steering peg exist, including a version with attached glove for extra support.
Budget choice: Steering mushroom (£12.99, Hypersonic on Amazon)
The wrist position for this one was much more comfortable and it was easier to push the steering wheel upwards by using the heel of my hand. The size was fine, even for my small hand. The head isn’t padded and feels a bit flimsy but the bolt on part is metal. I drove using it about 10 times and it didn’t slip on the wheel at all. there is some play on the spinner head itself which made it a bit difficult to make very small adjustments. Hex key included.
Best investment: Steering mushroom (£59 with VAT exemption, Alfred Bekker)
The customer service team for this company were honestly so helpful and agreed to exchange the steering peg I’d bought for a mushroom one. It felt more sturdy and hard wearing than the Hypersonic one and didn’t wiggle at all. I like the quick-release function in case someone else needs to drive my car and I want to remove it temporarily. It sticks out further than the Hypersonic spinner so it can be gripped from the top or the side. (Hex key needed but not included).
Steering spinner installation
This was a bit of an issue, each spinner came with minimal placement instructions. I originally thought the ideal place to install would be at the bottom of the wheel at 6 o’clock but it was actually 10 o’clock for me, steering left handed.
Fitting this was a nightmare! The indicator extension comes as a long, straight wire that requires bending to fit it over the back of the steering wheel, to the other side. Someone strong had to do this for me using a vice and pliers. Again, it came with minimal instructions as all car indicator stalks are different. The indicator stalks in my car are tapered and the extension bolts on, so it kept sliding to the centre where there was no leverage for it to work. Attempts to pad the stalk with electrical tape were partly successful, until we had a hot day and the tape melted and everything slid off.
The solution was to cut some bike inner tube to the exact width of a thin, non-tapered part in between the twisting parts of the stalk controlling the lights. This allowed the extension to bolt on to the stalk without restricting the lights controls.
Wire extension (£25 with VAT exemption, Alfred Bekker)
When it was finally fitted it was great and worked just as hoped. It’s very easy to flick up and down and doesn’t require gripping. Fitting was incredibly difficult and time consuming (may be different for other vehicles) but there’s no better alternative in this price range.
The dream: Wirelessly controlled indicator and lights system. Price on application
Car functions like indicators and lights can be mapped to buttons on a steering spinner, or elsewhere in the car. I couldn’t find any prices for these online, and they require professional installation. This would be a big investment but I imagine with some customisation this would enable total one-handed control of the car if needed. I’ll be sticking with my £25 alternative for now though!
The Finalised Setup
- Research and try things out if you can
- Allow some time to get things fitted correctly
- Get help with the installation
New Update! Driving One-Handed: Six Months On
Advice for hiring a car: Which Car Hire Companies Support Drivers Who Use Steering Aids?
This was not a sponsored piece.