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Many Americans live without legs or the use of their legs. However, for many of those individuals, driving isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Fortunately, people can drive without legs. It just takes some special modifications or equipment.

People drive cars, trucks, and SUVs without legs every day

Drivers can hit the road without legs. It’s not illegal to drive without legs. It is, however, a logistical issue for obvious reasons. Chief among these, drivers won’t be able to access the throttle pedal or brake pedal in a standard car, truck, or SUV with an automatic transmission. 

As a result, vehicle owners who wish to continue to drive without legs will have to fit their vehicles with special equipment. Specifically, drivers without the use of their legs will need hand controls to safely reconfigure driving actions like braking to a higher, more accessible position. 

For instance, UnitedAccess manufactures an array of Electronic Mobility Control (EMC) hand controls. The hand controls bring functions like accelerating and braking up to the driver’s hand space.

It’s not limited to amputees, either. Drivers can suffer spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis in their legs. What’s more, ailments like Guillain-Barre syndrome can progress from leg weakness into paralysis. Either way, people who want to keep driving after losing the use of their legs will have to rely on hand controls.

An wheelchair-bound enthusiast without the use of his legs shows off his classic car.
An enthusiast with his classic car | VPFOTO via iStock

Of course, adapting a vehicle to meet the needs of a driver without the use of their legs can get pricey. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a new vehicle with adaptive equipment can run anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000. Of course, a large portion of that price will depend on the base vehicle. 

Admittedly, one of my fellow U.S. Marines lost his legs in our 2011 deployment to Afghanistan. Fortunately, he lived to drive another day. His ride? A then-new pre-facelift Dodge Challenger with hand controls to take the place of actions like braking and accelerating. Adaptive vehicles needn’t be boring. 

It should be added that he is an avid scuba diver. There’s no stopping him. Nor is there stopping many Americans who continue to drive without or without the use of their legs.