Can Someone with Mobile Disabilities Drive a Tesla?


Can Someone with Mobile Disabilities Drive a Tesla?

Tesla vehicles have been designed to be suitable for all drivers, but does this apply to people with mobile disabilities as well? Luckily, there are many features of Tesla vehicles that make this a possibility.

Tesla vehicles are designed with modifications so that certain features—such as autopilot—can be activated for those with mobile disabilities. For example, convenient hand controls can remove the need for foot brakes. The height of some Tesla models can also be adjusted with suspension controls.  

Here, you will learn more about what features make Tesla vehicles suitable for drivers with mobile disabilities. These features do not all come factory-standard, but the installation of the necessary parts is simple and should be covered under warranty. 

Tesla’s Autopilot & Self-Driving Features

Every Tesla vehicle as of April 2019 comes with autopilot/self-driving capabilities. This feature does not come standard, but can be included in every recent model with a few easy modifications. In other words, all vehicles manufactured since April 2019 have the necessary equipment to activate the autopilot function.

These features in Tesla vehicles make self-driving a possibility:

  • Eight external cameras
  • A radar
  • 12 ultrasonic sensors
  • An on-board computer system

Two separate autopilot packages are available for purchase for Tesla owners: autopilot and full self-driving capability. These options can make driving much more accessible for those with mobile disabilities; they are easy to install and only require software packages. 

Autopilot

The autopilot option includes a feature that will automatically match the speed of your vehicle to that of the cars around you. The autosteer feature assists with the steering of the vehicle if it is traveling in a highway lane that is clearly marked.

Full Self-Driving Capability

The full self-driving capability package includes a navigation assistant that suggests lane changes and helps you with those changes by engaging the turn signal automatically. It also assists drivers in taking the correct exits. However, that’s not where the features stop.

  • The package also comes with an auto-park function that moves the car in and out of tight spaces using a mobile app or key. 
  • There’s traffic and stop sign control available, which automatically slows the vehicle to a stop under the supervision of the driver. 
  • Finally, there’s “Smart Summon,” which allows the driver to “call” the vehicle to them from as far as 200 feet away.

Smart Summon

The Smart Summon feature on Tesla vehicles is tailor-made for a driver with mobile disabilities. Not only does it help the driver navigate difficult parking spaces, but it also allows the car to come to you without anyone inside.

You can summon the Tesla by logging onto a cell phone app. Here you will see a map that plots your current location as well as the location of your vehicle. A circle will show you the maximum range at which the car can be summoned. The car can be as much as 200 feet from where you stand for the function to work. 

Getting the vehicle to drive towards your current location is pretty simple. There is a “come to me” option right by the map on the mobile app. Summon is activated with a quick touch of the screen.

It’s worth noting that Smart Summon does come with one caveat. You will not be able to utilize this feature on public roadways for safety reasons. If the vehicle’s on-board computer detects that it will have to traverse a road to come to you, then it will not allow the request to move forward.

Still, this is an excellent application for disabled drivers, particularly in busy areas where there may not be a vacant accessible parking space. The car will be able to travel from wherever it is in the parking lot to your location.

Tesla’s FeatherLite SureGrip Hand Controls

FeatherLite SureGrip hand controls remove the need to use the gas and brake pedals in the vehicle. They make it possible for individuals with mobile disabilities to control their cars with ease. 

The hand controls offer the following features for disabled drivers:

  • Alternative Throttle Source – The vehicle’s factory pedal can be replaced with an activation button.
  • Electronic Acceleration – There will no longer be a need to push the gas pedal physically. The gas rod is removed, leaving plenty of room for legs.
  • Responsive Throttle – The throttle is also designed to be more responsive and more accessible to control than the factory-installed system.

The hand controls also improve access to secondary controls like turn signals, light dimmers, and wiper controls.

However, it’s worth mentioning that these hand control features are only compatible with select vehicles. They are only available for the following Tesla models:

  • Model 3 – 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Model S – all years 2013-2020
  • Model X – all years 2016-2020
  • Model Y – 2020

You should have no problem finding a dealer that offers SureGrip parts near you; there is actually a dealer locator on SureGrip’s website. 

Will I Still Be Able to Use My Gas Pedal When I Want to?

According to the manufacturer, there is often a concern among potential buyers that they will not be able to use a gas pedal if they still want to do so from time to time. However, know that it is not necessary to remove the gas pedal altogether.

If you still want to have the option to use the pedal, then you should be able to specify that you would like this part to remain in the vehicle. But, many owners remove the pedals because it opens up leg room that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Are the Hand Control Parts Covered Under a Warranty?

Factory-installed car parts are certainly covered under a warranty of some kind. There is some concern amongst potential buyers of hand controls that these new parts will not be covered under an equivalent guarantee. However, there is no need to worry as FeatherLite SureGrip parts are indeed covered under warranty.

The mechanical parts of the SureGrip hand controls are covered under a 4-year warranty. The electronic components are guaranteed for one year. Depending on which contract you have through Tesla, the new parts will be covered under a warranty not too different than the existing one. 

Tesla Vehicles’ Adjustable Ride Height

Finally, Tesla models also come with an adjustable ride height option. This allows you the ability to adjust the suspension of the vehicle. There are many ways in which this can assist the disabled driver, though being able to enter and exit the car more comfortably is one of its most significant benefits. 

For example, if you have trouble bending down to get into your car, you can set an “Always Auto-Raise at this location.” to keep the vehicle raised to the desired height whenever you happen to be located in the driveway. This feature is also designed to simplify driving because certain circumstances may require you to change the height of the vehicle.

In Summary

Tesla vehicles are simple to modify for drivers with mobile disabilities. For starters, Tesla models can come with an adjustable suspension system that allows for easier entry. Of course, there are a host of other features that make Tesla vehicles suitable for disabled drivers, such as:

  • Autopilot/self-driving capability
  • Ability to summon your vehicle from as far as 200 feet away
  • Parking lot maneuvering 
  • Compatibility with hand controls that remove the need for gas pedals/brake pedals

Contact your nearest Tesla dealership or buy your Tesla online to get 1000 free supercharging miles to learn more about how you can take advantage of these features!

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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