By Alex Channing
Giving people with physical and mental conditions easier access to our roads will go a long way to helping them live with autonomy and independence. There are many common disabilities that can affect driving, such as arthritis, neurological conditions, or impaired hearing or vision. Fortunately, technological advances are continuing to make it easier for disabled people to get behind the wheel.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are one such innovation which could help to reduce the gulf in driver numbers between non-disabled and disabled people. But how can an EV assist drivers who have pre-existing conditions? Here are three ways people with mental and physical conditions could benefit from making the switch to electric.
With fewer moving parts and the absence of a combustion engine, EVs offer a far quieter ride than traditional cars. Whilst this alone may not have you rushing out to join the electric revolution, the reduced noise of an EV has actually been found to have many positive effects on the mental health of drivers.
A study carried out by researchers at the University of York analysed the brain activity of London taxi drivers when driving both diesel and electric black cabs. The study concluded that they were calmer, happier and more focused in the electric model. It was inferred that the quieter working environment contributed towards higher concentration levels in drivers, with fewer distractions allowing them to focus more on the roads.
Particularly for people who rely on getting into their cars every day for work or other commitments, the more peaceful conditions could go a long way to helping reduce some of the stresses associated with driving.
It’s a common misconception amongst many drivers that petrol-power is always more convenient than electric when it comes to cars. But there are many arguments that dispute this belief. For example, most electric vehicles are automatic, meaning you won’t have to contend with a gear box or often even a traditional handbrake whilst driving. This can make for a safer and far more comfortable driving experience, particularly for people with joint pain.
What’s more, for people who suffer from physical impairments, but aren’t registered as disabled, an added benefit of EVs could be the designated electric car parking spaces which are often located in priority spots. In car parks with charging points, these bays will often be placed in a more convenient position, meaning less walking is required to and from your vehicle.
As it is, for many disabled drivers, ‘filling up’ an EV is far less strenuous than using a traditional petrol or diesel pump. Whereas using a fuel pump requires the strength to pull the trigger and hold it in place, you simply need to plug the charger into your EV to top it up, where it can be left unattended until fully charged. What’s more, having the freedom to fill up your EV from the comfort of home can help put your mind at ease, and means you can avoid busy petrol/charging stations.