NEW WAYS TO LEARN TO DRIVE FOR PEOPLE WITH IMPAIRED MOBILITY

Wheelchair Cars Ireland (WCI) are the first car adaption specialists in Ireland and the UK in conjunction with The Irish Wheelchair Association to install versatile driving adaptions into an electric Renault Zoe. The Zoe is the first electric car with these special adaptions to be used as a national driving instructor car. These adaption combination enables drivers with impaired mobility to learn to drive using a variety of driving adaptions. This first of its kind adapted electric car is an extremely important teaching aid for people with various physical disabilities in Ireland.

With over 40% of Irish people with some form of physical disability these new ways to learn to drive create independence living solutions. The IWA adapted car allows the driver to operate the car from a Guidosimplex steering ring with a ‘push / pull’ braking system. This combined adaption had not been done before in Ireland. The technical team at WCI have successfully merged the adaptions to offer this one of a kind driving learning experience to the instructors at the IWA.

The disabled driver can learn to drive using push / pull for acceleration / braking, left foot braking / acceleration, thumb acceleration control, secondary controls from thumb or any combination of all of these. The IWA are the first driving instruction school to offer such versatile driving instructor options. When asked about the Zoe adaption Gerard Murtagh, WCI owner, said “we are always striving for innovative ways to improve driving adaptions for our clients. We see first-hand every day the importance of driving freedom and the independence that comes with this. We want to expand the world of driving for people with physical disabilities. I am delighted we could make this a reality.”

The Irish government offers incentives such as tax relief for drivers and passengers with physical disabilities. In the past couple of years, they offered support in the way of grants for Irish taxi drivers to adapt their taxi to become wheelchair accessible. Both schemes go a long way to providing disabled people with more opportunities to access their own transport. And now thanks to this driving instructor aid more disabled drivers benefit from more options for driving.

When asked about new adaptions, Mr. Murtagh said, “We are always pushing the boundaries of what is possible. We are passionate about helping people with disabilities find comfort and freedom through driving. It’s fantastic to see a successful adaption combination like the one in the Renault Zoe. Hopefully, in the future we will see, and do more so people can see what is possible.”

Wheelchair Cars Ireland is an Irish family run business with branches in Glasson, Athlone, Co. Westmeath and Buttevant, Co. Cork. Gerard and Laura Murtagh have over 10 years helping people with varying degrees of physical disabilities to find the right vehicle to suit their needs. WCI operates a NASI certified workshop with all mechanical and technical teams trained to the highest standards of safety. All vehicle adaptions and conversions go through quality assurance checks so every vehicle on the road meets rigorous safety checks.