Development of Multi-Function Vehicles for Evaluation of Handicapped Driver Candidates 851669
Automobiles are designed Co be entered and operated by “average” sized, “normal” people. Certain adjustments, such as seat position, steering wheel attitude, and mirror angle, are provided to accommodate people who vary from the norm. Some physically disabled people are unable to drive unless certain further adaptations are made to the car. Adaptive equipment must be appropriately selected, installed, and adjusted to provide a functional interface between the operator and the vehicle. For minor disabilities, such as low level paralysis and amputation, the need for adaptive devices is minimal and selection is not complicated. However, more severe physical disabilities such as quadriplegia and multiple amputation require a more complicated array of adaptations to enable entry into the vehicle and attainment of an adequately safe and reliable level of driving performance. It is, therefore, more difficult to specify, expensive to purchase, and irreversible to accomplish the appropriate adaptations. The method of selecting these complicated arrays of adaptations needs improvement to save time and money.
In a limited few facilities in this country and abroad, special evaluation and training vehicles have been developed that will allow the disabled driver candidate to try a variety of configurations of adaptive devices in a realistic driving environment. Aided by skilled evaluators, the candidate is able to accurately select exactly the adaptive devices and modifications that best suit his (or her)* functional needs to demonstrate, sometimes to the point of passing the licensing test, his ability to drive the vehicle. The potential result of utilizing such special vehicle capabilities is a considerable savings in time and money and increased satisfaction of the disabled driver with the end product.