5 Ways Auto Technology Improves Accessibility

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The auto industry is a very competitive market, which can be good news for car buyers with special needs. While typically-abled drivers may have an entire selection of vehicles to choose from, buyers with special needs may be looking for very specific features to make driving easier or even possible in some cases. Luckily, car manufacturers recognize that there is a market for buyers who are interested in upgrading to a car with driving assistance. Because of that, several vehicle options make driving more convenient for the average driver, and more comfortable for those needing to accommodate conditions such as chronic illness, pain, or other physical conditions.

Auto Technology Improves Accessibility

1. Seating

Because drivers can vary greatly in height and body shape, adjustable seating is a must and is nothing new in the auto world. However, in some models, some seats have come a long way from simply being able to slide back and forth and recline with a manual lever. Some cars now allow drivers to adjust seats easily with electronic controls so that a touch of a button is all it takes to adjust the angle of the entire seat base, as well as its height firmness, and even temperature. While this will allow any driver to have the most comfortable access to the wheel and pedals, drivers with physical ailments can look forward to adjusting almost instantaneously to alleviate any pain or discomfort in the back, legs, and joints.

2. Steering

Gone are the days of stiff, mechanical steering systems that required a significant amount of elbow grease to operate. Maneuvering your vehicle has become easier thanks to technology such as power steering. While the hydraulic and electro-hydraulic systems were a noteworthy jump from their predecessor, drivers today can look forward to new models utilizing electric systems that only continue to evolve to make steering virtually effortless for anyone. Some vehicles may even have stereoscopic steering for a more easily customized fit.

3. Touch and Hands-Free Controls

When drivers have issues with their wrists, hands, and fingers, using various knobs and buttons can take more effort than usual. Thankfully with advancements in electronics, many cars come equipped with easy-to-use touch screen control panels and even Bluetooth or voice-activated operating systems. While the capabilities of each make and model will vary, drivers with special needs such as arthritis, carpal tunnel, tingling, and numbness now have more options when fine-motor functions in their hands and fingers are not as consistent.

4. Electric Doors

Even closing and opening heavy car doors can be a burden if a driver has issues with their back, shoulders, or hands. Getting in and out of vehicles in a busy, loading cargo, and sometimes even using a traditional key entry can take more exertion in these situations. However, having vehicles with electric-powered doors and other alternatives can make that a challenge for the past. Many manufacturers are now offering easier options such as sliding doors that glide effortlessly against the vehicle, and driver, passenger, and trunk doors that can open and close with a touch of a button.

5. Sensors and Cameras

While many may argue that being able to look over your shoulder is the best method for checking behind your vehicle and in any blind spots, relying on that alone is not necessarily an option for everybody. This is because injury or pain to the back and neck can make it difficult to turn and twist frequently. Thanks to features such as backup cameras and lane-changing sensors, these drivers can have peace of mind knowing that they have these extra tools to ensure that they can keep themselves and those around them safe.

Although driving with special needs can be a challenge, it is comforting to know that advances in auto technology are only continuing to evolve. While it still may be many years until self-driving vehicles are the norm, maneuvering a vehicle is still accessible to more people thanks to these innovations.