The Americans with Disabilities Act protects your rights to fight against discrimination. If you cannot drive simply because you need assistance to turn the steering wheel then it means you can lawfully use a spinner.
The reason they were banned was because so many people died using them. So many people died using them because they took stupid risks. The people using them wanted to turn more quickly and therefore the chance of the vehicle overturning was very high.
Spinners weren’t dangerous. The people using them were.
A lot of people to this day assume that because you’re most likely to die with a spinner that they’re the probably. They aren’t the problem, it’s the people who were using them were. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people – remember that?
The smoother and quicker turn attracted race car drivers who were eager to boost their performance and speed times. These people have a much greater chance of dying in a car crash that anyone else – and the addition of a piece of equipment which needs to be used safely obviously doesn’t help the matter.
If used safely, steadily and properly there’s absolutely nothing wrong with steering wheel attachments such as this. It’s when you get hot headed or glory-seeking people who take risks, and people who take risks end up dying.
The irony is that most handicapped (spinal cord injury victims in this case) people are in a wheelchair because of a car accident. Car accidents are the number one cause of disabilities in the US and UK. If a race car driver or someone who uses a spinner knob illegally crashes and becomes disabled… the irony is that they can use that same knob afterwards both legally and to make driving safer.
Why are Spinner Knobs Legal?
Put simply, they’re legal because once put in the hands of an experienced and sensible person they can (usually in combination with other equipment) make disabled driving safer.
One of the biggest issues with driving as a paraplegic is that you need hand controls in order to operate the gas and brakes. This means that you can usually only have one hand on the wheel and one hand operated the pedals. There are some exceptions to this of course, most portable hand control kits are positioned in a way which requires on hand to use the pedal but can also reach the wheel to provide balance and stability.
Nevertheless turning with potentially only one hand makes driving a much more tricky proposition. If you have a steering wheel attachment (not just knobs but there are actually perhaps around a dozen different device types by just as many manufacturers) you can more comfortably turn the vehicle with just one hand.
In this case the round knob provides leverage and you can naturally shift your arm and maintain a steady calm flow which you wouldn’t be able to do if you were rapidly trying to re-position your hand on the steering wheel.
Do I Recommend Handicapped steering Knobs?
This is a tough question I get asked and unfortunately I have to give the accurate but unsatisfactory answer ‘it depends’. No one seems to like the ‘it depends’ even though it’ll assist them in picking what’s really right for their ability and condition.
It depends on what you feel comfortable with as well as the strength in your arm and hand – and the grip strength in your hand. Arthritis suffers or people with muscular diseases may well find one piece of equipment better or more useful than others.
I’m going to go over the two main other devices below.
Single Post, or Single-Pin Grip
Single Post or Pin Grips are also as ubiquitous as driving knobs for the same reason – they’re an asset for any handicapped driver in turning the vehicle. Plus they’re always foam padded which is a nice little extra.
Essentially if you imagine a device which is 3/4 of the length of a pencil and as wide a 50 cent piece then you can imagine the shape. It ‘pops’ up vertically from the steering wheel and allows you to keep hold of it and use that extra leverage to help pivot your steering wheel around the center. Basically it makes turning much easier.
Tri-Pin, or Tri Post Grip
By the way in case you’re wondering why I’ve noted down two names for both of these products it’s because they’re very popular and produced by several different manufacturers and over the years they’ve developed similar but admittedly different names.
This is the big daddy version of the single pin grip. It features the same single pin grip apart from it’s flanked by two other single pin grips which enclose the wrist. This provides both support for the wrist when relaxing and added leverage when turning. Plus it’s padded too.
So which steering wheel aid should you choose?
The main word here being ‘you’ – there’s a lot of different steering wheel attachments and they cover all manner of different problems and disabilities.
I would recommend heading on down to a local disabled car shop and trying each of them out just to see which one was the most comfortable for you. All of these products feature quick release mechanisms which allow you to add and remove the devices within just a few minutes.
This is perfect to use in conjunction with portable kits because you can remove all the important equipment you need for driving and allow friends or family members to drive the car normally.
Furthermore it means you can quickly add and remove them and get a real feel for your preference. These three devices above probably account for around 80-90% of all sales for steering wheel aids so there’s a good chance you’ll find something that suits you.
If you don’t then you can see my ‘steering wheel attachments’ page above and see a full list of products as well as who makes them. Generally you’ll need to go to a disabled car shop but it is possible to simple buy them online on sites like Accumed or Amazon and have them delivered straight to your door.
Of course this isn’t possible for permanently installed hand controls because they require a certified trained mechanic – on the other hand quick release steering aids can be installed by anyone who can read a manual (and probably even if i can’t although i’m certainly not endorsing this!).
Learning more about HHC.com
HandicapHandControls.com is a community based website designed at achieving one goal – creating a community of like minded drivers who can share tips and experiences, as well as providing articles on all the information required for safe and legal driving as a person with a handicap.
What kind of disability? Any kind. Whether you’re a paraplegic, quadriplegic or other spinal cord injured person then we can help. If you have a muscular disease, arthritis or anything which impairs you from regular driving then we can help. Missing a hand? That’s okay we can tell you about amputee rings for example!
Our community of drivers is a perfect knowledge base and pool to draw from, and combining that with the information articles, product reviews, outlines and recommendations we’re sure you’ll want to come back for more!
I would recommend bookmarking or saving our URL somewhere and liking our Facebook page. Remember, if you want to get in contact with me then feel free to email or message me at any time. You can visit the ‘Contact Us’ section at the top which has my personal email as well as my Facebook page (both professional and personal) so you can always feel free to send me a message and get in contact.