Hand Control Usage and Safety Assessment

Hand controls are devices used by people who are unable to operate the brake and accelerator pedals with their feet due to physical impairment. This report summarizes a series of studies designed to: 1) determine how many drivers are using hand controls and other adaptive devices; 2) evaluate hand control reliability; and 3) evaluate the injury potential of hand controls in a frontal crash. A gathering of state data on driver license restrictions related to adaptive driving aids failed to produce enough information to allow an estimation of national adaptive device usage. Hand control reliability was assessed by testing five representative hand controls in accordance with the August 1990 revision of the SAE standard J1903--"Recommended Practice Automotive Adaptive Driver Controls, Manual." The five hand controls passed the vibration, cyclic load, and service overload tests. All of the hand controls failed the corrosion resistance test. Recommendations were made to improve the SAE standard. Three portable hand controls were tested also. All ultimately passed the vibration, cyclic load, and service overload tests. The potential for hand controls to pose an injury threat in frontal crashes involved several investigations including six frontal sled tests. The findings include the following: 1) Hand controls do not present increased risk of head contact injury in a frontal collision; 2) The use of hand controls does not necessarily require a closer-to-the-wheel sitting position and associated elevated risk of injury from air bag deployment; and 3) Hand controls, and the knee bolster modifications necessary for their installation, minimally affected crash safety. The most severe injury observed in the sled tests was a moderate knee laceration. Injury criteria values such as Head Injury Criteria (HIC), chest g's, femur load, and the tibia index, were unaffected by the presence of the hand control.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Virginia, Charlottesville

    Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Automobile Safety Laboratory, P.O. Box 400746
    Charlottesville, VA  United States  22904-4746

    Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

    55 Broadway
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02142
  • Authors:
    • Pilkey, Walter
    • Thacker, John
    • Shaw, Greg
  • Publication Date: 2001-8


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 240p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01000744
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Contract Numbers: DTRS-57-97-C-00050, TTD#3
  • Files: HSL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 7 2005 11:07AM