Learn about car adjustments and modifications

People can drive more comfortably and safely if their vehicles "fits" them well.

Simple adjustments that help the car better fit the driver include:

  • Moving the driver's seat back or forward, or higher or lower, so that they can see the road well, press the pedals down fully and are at least 12 inches away from the steering wheel (outside the airbag deployment zone)

  • Adjusting the steering wheel so that it doesn't block their view, there's space between the wheel and their lap, and the center of the wheel is angled toward their body (not their face)

  • Adjusting the shoulder part of the seat belt by moving the anchor where the belt meets the side of the car up or down, so that the belt runs over the shoulder

  • Adjusting the rear-view mirror, so that they can see the entire rear window

  • Adjusting the left-side mirror, so that they just see the left rear of the car when their head is against the driver's side window

  • Adjusting the right-side mirror, so that they can just see the right rear of the car when they lean towards the middle of the car

Adjusting the mirrors will shrink but not get rid of blind spots on either side of the vehicle.

Before changing lanes, safe drivers check their mirrors and turn their heads to look for traffic.

Occupational therapists can perform professional driving assessments and suggest strategies, training and vehicles adjustments or modifications to improve driving safety.

Car modifications help people with physical limitations drive safely. Some modifications involve special equipment that must be installed professionally, such as:

  • Steering devices

  • Hand controls for gas and brakes

  • Left-foot accelerators

  • Adjustable foot pedals

If the same vehicle is used by two or more people, any adjustments or modifications need to be easily adjustable for other drivers.