Car equipped with Menox hand controls (2014 Mini Cooper Paceman)
Spinner knob (optional)
Auxiliary function buttons (optional)
Brake lock (optional)
Hand controls exist to assist disabled individuals in driving. There are many different types of hand controls; they can be installed on the left or right side depending on the individual’s needs. I will be focusing on hand controls installed in a 2014 Mini Cooper Paceman. Additionally, I will be giving instructions on basic functions without the assistance of the auxiliary function buttons that are optional--since the car I will be demonstrating with does not have those options installed. I may reference some of the options, so that is why I have them listed.
The Menox hand controls function in a “push-pull” configuration. To use the brake, you push the lever forward. To accelerate you pull the lever back towards you. In the Paceman, the lever is located on the right-side installed next to the center console. The Auxiliary buttons are located on the left side of the handle for easy access with your right thumb. Some of the options available for the aux buttons: Horn, turn signals, cruise control, windshield wipers, and high beams. There is also a brake lock button located on the front part of the handle, accessible by using the index or middle finger.
Step 1: Starting the Vehicle
1. With your right hand holding the brake in, push the ‘start’ button on the dashboard. If you can reach it with a finger on your right hand, just do it that way, otherwise hold the break with your left hand and hit the button using your right hand.
2. Engage the break with your left hand by pushing the lever forward. With your right hand, disengage the parking brake. (if applicable)
Step 2: Shifting Into Reverse
- With the brake still engaged with your left hand, shift out of park and into reverse with your right hand.
With your right hand, take over holding the brake, moving your left hand to the steering wheel.
Release the brake and allow the lever to go back to its neutral position. You should be slowly moving back now.
Turn the wheel with your left hand as needed to avoid hitting anything, keeping your head turning to watch behind you and to your sides. I mainly use my side and rearview mirrors, since I cannot twist my body easily.
Step 3: Shifting Into Drive
- When you’re clear of all obstacles and ready to shift into drive, push the brake forward with your right hand. When you come to a complete stop move your left hand on to the brake (handle) and use your right hand to shift into ‘drive’.
- Once in drive, move your right hand back to the brake handle and your left hand back on to the steering wheel.
- You can now accelerate as needed by pulling the lever back towards you.
Step 4: Steering and Turning
Steering is done with the left hand with or without the assistance of a steering knob. A steering knob would commonly be placed at the 10 o’clock or 7 o’clock position on the steering wheel, depending on personal preference.
Steering is no different with hand controls, with the exception that a spinner knob is legal to possess with hand controls installed. It is not required that you have one, but they are useful if you do not possess normal strength and flexibility in your hand and/or wrist.
Coordinating turn signals:
1. While driving, when you approach a turn, loosely slide your hand downward (for left turns) or upward, (for right turns) keeping a finger extended outward to hit the turn signal. Refer to your local driving ordinances to find out how long you are required to signal before a turn.
2. Before turning, move your left hand upward to grasp the spinner knob, and turn the wheel as needed to complete your turn.
Note: If you have the option to get the turn signals installed as an auxiliary button on the handle, I suggest you have that done. You’ll find that it’s difficult to engage the turn signal lever while the vehicle is in a turn.
Step 5: Parking the Vehicle
- Make sure you bring the vehicle to a complete stop before continuing. Hold in the brake with your left hand.
With your right hand, shift the vehicle into park.
With your right hand, engage the parking brake.
You can now release the brake.
Hit the start button on the dashboard to turn off the vehicle.