The Mobility Roadshow

The Mobility Roadshow allows disabled drivers to take a spin in the latest technology
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Indy Lifestyle Online

But from July 7 to July 9, it will host a very special show – The Mobility Roadshow comes to Donnington. This free show will interest nearly 10 million people in the UK, who together hold an estimated purchasing power of £40-£50bn.

Yes, the disabled driving market is huge, and car manufacturers are taking steps of change to match. Some of us may recall the pale blue three-wheeler invalid carriage of the post war period, built by the AC car company - more associated with monsters like the Cobra rather than the sluggish blue wedge. But time has definitely moved on, and many of today's disabled are more likely to be edging toward the sublime rather than the ridiculous.

This unique event is a showcase for everything that means mobility. Wheelchairs, buggies, cars, off-roaders, rally cars and racing cars -almost anything with wheels, and as a paraplegic, I'm always keen to know what the latest innovation to make motoring better is.

Disabled drivers can genuinely be an equal to anyone on the road (or track). All it takes is innovative imagination on the engineer's part and sometimes the nerve to use some of the adaptations that can make any vehicle, never mind just cars, a reality to drive.

But starting with the fun on show... If you thought that driving on tarmac is boring, then get off it and head for the In-field Action Area. All the big noises in off-road driving are there - Range Rover testing with Off-Road UK; quad biking with QuadTech and the amazingly stomach churning Woodstar Buggy from Xtreme Disabled Motorsport - you're so close to the mud with the Woodstar, you'd better inspect your trousers when you get out.

However, the day is short, so back to a little sanity. You'll be wanting to match the facility to ability, and of course your wallet. So with the cars on show priced anywhere between four figures and the thick end of five figures, it's down to scrutinising the way in which they meet your needs.

These days, a growing number of models are sporting gizmo's that, at one time, were expensive add-ons – electric windows, key-fob opening, steering wheel tilting and cruise control. Now, a growing number of cars come with paddle shift or non-clutch gear changing options too. All of these are a great boon for the average (if there is an 'average') disabled driver. But what about the broad range of disability?

This show is the perfect place to not only see what's on offer, but test it too. Old hands at the conversion game are Brotherwood Automobility. It was in 1985 the company started answering the call with their Nissan Prairie conversion – today they are still setting the benchmark in wheelchair accessible vehicle conversions - their unique Hooki wheelchair anchor restraints secure chairs with rock solid rigidity to cars converted to order.

Needless to say, there are a number of companies converting foot controls to hand controls, with the trusted lever action still in great demand. But other companies are showing sensitive variations. KC Mobility Services' conversions use fingertip controls for the accelerator which, on a long journey, can really relieve the strain on the hand movement.

One company that's refining its lever hand controls is Jeff Gosling Controls. Their System III, with leg impact protection system is robust, yet more sophisticated than many. Considering they have been chosen by owners of cars such as the Bentley Continental, aesthetics as well as functionality come out on top.

Lodgesons are exploring new paths with their infra red controls. For those with restricted limb use, their fingertip controls unit, for essential electrics (indicators, lights, horn etc), can even be transferred from vehicle to vehicle.

But when better to start driving than when you're young? So if you're planning on taking the kids (15+ actually), then get them to slap on the L plates for the Corsa Challenge on the famed Donnington track, to celebrate National Young Disabled Persons' Day on July 7.

Getting started

The Motability scheme was introduced in the 70s to offer the disabled person a choice of vehicle other than, at that time, the three-wheeler " invalid-trike" that barely had room for the driver and his dog. Today, the scheme has three main ways to turn the Mobility Allowance into wheels:

* A new car on a three-year contract hire lease.

* A new or used car on hire purchase, over a term of two to five years.

* A new or used powered wheelchair, or scooter on hire purchase, over a term of one to three years.You can contact Motability on: 0845 456 4566 or for publications on the Wheelchair and Scooter Scheme, contact route2mobility on 01264 384480. Or visit their website at www.motability.co.uk

Full details on the official website: www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk

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