Modified Vehicle Controls

Vehicle Controls

R. Scott King, BSME, Automotive / Mechanical Engineer ::::
The operator of a new, customized van equipped with specialized hand-controls was fatally injured in a single-vehicle incident when his van reportedly accelerated uncontrollably and struck a tree. After the incident, investigators downloaded data from the vehicle’s event data recorder and determined the vehicle speed exceeded 90 miles per hour. A witness described the operator’s panicked efforts to maintain control of the vehicle as it accelerated and swerved through traffic before departing the roadway.
Review of the vehicle modification records, as well as the training and certification materials provided with the modification equipment, revealed operational details of the modifications to the vehicle’s accelerator and braking systems, how those systems operated, and various safe-guards associated with them. In particular, this data showed that the vehicle’s accelerator pedal was adapted to permit both hand and foot operation. The safe-guard for this portion of operation required the use of a pedal block, designed to prevent unintended foot operation of the accelerator pedal while operating under hand control. Such safe-guarding was required as some disabled people, including the subject operator, suffer from involuntary leg and foot motion.
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