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Have you ever seen a lady with no hands drive a car? Or get a car door open? What’s it like to drive with no feet? Do I have any special modifications to my car?Amputee driving is no different, for me, than regular driving.
I drive a normal car, a Chevrolet Equinox, in fact. We purchased it because the GMC Yukon we had before seemed like a monster truck and I couldn’t hoist myself up into it without any help. It was a sad day when we sold it because I loved that Yuke. So we purchased an Equinox (now referred to as the Eek). But before we could do that, I needed to talk to a man from the state of New Hampshire about my needs and whether I was qualified for amputee driving. I didn’t need a special license, just permission.
So this kind man came to my house in a minivan that was outfitted with all the gadgets and gizmos I could possibly need. Before we drove we went through the van to talk about what type of options I would want for my own car. We went through his list, we went for a couple of test drives. He wanted to make sure I could parallel park. I passed everything on his checklist and I was good to go.
One option I thought I needed was to make the steering wheel looser when it turns. At the time I thought this would be a good feature. That meant I would need a car with mechanical power steering so that we could modify the force of the steering. However, those modifications turned out to not be necessary because I didn’t really need that feature after all. I was perfectly capable of driving with regular steering. Oh well, lesson learned. I think that I shouldn’t have inquired of that feature so soon after my amputation when my arms were still sore. The alterations they did to my car now make it unsalable to someone who doesn’t need that particular feature.
To enable me to open the car door, we had rubber hoses in the shape of circles attached. I could simply slide my arm through the hose, pull and voila, the door opened. The hoses are also on the inside of the car. The steering wheel had a tripod attached to it. By resting my arm in the tripod I could have complete control of the steering wheel.
Another feature that was critical to my car was an extender on the seat belt. This enabled me to pop the seat belt off when I was done riding. In order to get my windows up and down, we had plastic levers put onto the regular window buttons. Now I don’t have to ask someone else to put the window up or down for me. I have another extender on my gear shifter.
As for my feet, I don’t use any special tools. The hardest part about amputee driving is that I can’t feel my feet so in order to check my speed I have to watch the odometer. One time as I was leaving the driveway I got my foot caught under the brake. Thankfully I was still in the driveway. It would have been disastrous out on the road. Needless to say, I haven’t let that happen twice.
I don’t generally drive when we go out as a family but I now have the option. I usually keep my trips to a half hour distance. I really don’t like driving on the freeway. It scares me when there’s a lot of traffic. I typically use cruise control to keep my speed constant. When there’s traffic obviously I can’t do that so if I’m not paying attention the next thing I know I’m going 40 in a 65 mile per hour zone. A couple of months ago my daughter was in a pinch and needed a ride to the airport in Boston which is 2 hours away. I was taking her to the park and ride when we got the call that her ride fell through. I was in a total panic mode. Thankfully it was for a 6 am flight and there was no traffic at that time. I survived the trip successfully and have actually done the trip another time since.
Driving is a privilege I’m thankful for. Initially, my family was nervous when getting in a car that I was driving. Now, though, I don’t think they even notice the handicap. I know they don’t in most other aspects of our life. Do you have any questions about amputee driving or the features that I need? I welcome your questions. In fact, I recently spent the morning with preschoolers who had many questions. Visit How I Played the 20 Questions Game with Really Curious Kids. Just comment below. 👇. If you enjoyed this post, there’s plenty more like it. Please consider subscribing to my blog. You won’t regret it. ❤ We can also carry on the conversation over on my Instagram page or my One Exceptional Life Facebook page.