29 January 2020

The best car accessories to help make driving with arthritis easier

man with arthritis

Owning a car and being able to drive it provides a huge amount of independence but suffering from arthritis can make driving more challenging. Things like turning the steering wheel when your hands and wrists hurt or applying pressure to the brake or accelerator when your feet hurt becomes tricky.

While many people with arthritis and other physical limitations know that there are mobility aids such as stair lifts for the home or mobility scooters that can help them, not many know about the car accessories to help people drive with arthritis.

Now car manufacturers have developed a range of accessories and technologies to help make driving easier for those with mobility issues and disabilities. Read on to find out the best car accessories to help make driving with arthritis easier and what the law is about driving with a similar medical condition.

What is the law about driving with Arthritis?

People suffering from arthritis need to inform the DVLA about their condition and when applying for a provisional licence you need to declare that you suffer from arthritis.

Talking about the laws around driving with arthritis, Versus Arthritis said: “It's unlikely that a person with arthritis would be asked to retake their driving test, but you may be issued your licence for a shorter period or you may need to adapt your car with special controls.”

The best car accessories for driving with arthritis

Click on an accessory to find out more:

  • Keyless start
  • Steering wheel cover
  • Steering wheel handle knob
  • Heated seats
  • Adaptive hand and foot controls
  • Portable grab bar
  • Consider buying a new car

Keyless start

engine start button

A new car feature that has become widespread is the keyless start functionality and whilst it was built with convenience in mind, it is now a necessity for drivers with arthritis.

A push-button keyless starter allows drivers to start a car without the need for inserting a key and turning it, which can be difficult for someone with pain in their hands and wrists.

Lots of modern vehicles now boast keyless entry too so you don’t have to use a key to unlock the door and can just use a remote to unlock the doors and boot. The very latest keyless entry systems mean that drivers don’t even need the remote in hand and they can just stay in your pocket as you approach your car.

Steering wheel cover

One great accessory for a vehicle is a steering wheel cover as this can benefit people with hand and wrist pain as it means the driver doesn’t have to grip the wheel as tight.

Steering wheel covers made from rubber or silicone are grippier and can prevent your hands from slipping off the steering wheel.

When buying a new cover, you need to make sure you know the size of your steering wheel and you should also make sure that you are happy with the feel of it before you buy it.

Demon Tweeks and Mr Steering are popular outlets where you could buy a steering wheel cover as their options are endless.

Steering wheel handle knob

Steering wheel handle knobs are attachments that you can put on the steering wheel of your vehicle to help you turn the wheel with less strength or grip.

There are lots of different models available that have been designed for different types of disabilities and they can be transferred from car to car by clamping it easily onto any steering wheel.

Automotive retailer Halfords sells steering wheel handle knobs and these can help drivers suffering from arthritis in their hands to have incredibly easy 360-degree steering control.

Heated seats

heated car seat

A great way to keep your joints warm while you drive is to use heated seats and this can relieve joint pain and keep them flexible.

There are lots of different heated seats available and retailers like Direct Car Parts sell models from £17.99 to £24.99. These seats come with a built-in thermostat, 10amp fused plug and secured elastic straps.

Heated seats can help reduce pain in your back or hips, but if you don’t have heated seats or can’t install heated seat covers then you can use pillows or a rolled-up towel as an alternative.

Adaptive hand and foot controls

People with severe arthritis in their feet or legs can benefit from having hand controls as this will help lessen their pain.

These controls need to be custom-fit to your car and you, but once they have been built-in they allow you to control everything in your car. This includes accelerating and braking with your hands instead of your feet.

Another option is for sufferers to customise their foot controls by having them adjusted so the pedal is lengthened or moved.

These changes will need to be made by a professional and depending on what it is you need to be changed, it can be expensive.

Portable grab bar

This accessory not only helps drivers with arthritis get in and out of the car, but can help anyone suffering from a mobility issue.

Like stairlifts or walk-in baths, grab bars are common mobility aids for your home but you can now buy portable grab bars for your vehicle.

The Stander HandyBar is one such grab bar that you can carry with you to help you get in and out of a car. Here are some other benefits of a portable grab bar:

  • It’s portable – These mini grab bars can be carried in a handbag or rucksack and can be kept in a glove box in your car.
  • It can prevent falls – Portable grab bars like the Stander HandyBar provide users with stability when going from standing to sitting or vice versa.
  • It has a 3-in-1 safety tool – Many portable grab bars also act as a window-breaker and seat belt cutter should you need to escape in an emergency.

Consider buying a new car

new car

If your arthritis is affecting your driving, then you should consider buying a new car that will better cater for your condition.

Manual transmissions, for example, are not the best choice for people with arthritis and a car with an automatic transmission and other useful technology like power steering, ABS brakes and cruise control are very useful.

Cruise control is very useful for people that drive along motorways often or commonly drive long distances. You can control the desired speed you travel at and it allows you to take your foot off the accelerator.

As you can see there are lots of accessories to help aid people suffering from arthritis in the car and there are also lots of mobility aids that you can purchase for around the home such as our curved stairlifts and straight stair lifts.