Car Adaptations

Though cars are often not designed for people of short stature. This section will help you find accommodations that will make driving more safe and comfortable for you, if you have a short trunk, short arms, or both.

Need help getting started? Please contact Casey, a dwarf and Driver’s Ed instructor:


To find out more about cars modifications for dwarfs:

  • Car Talk’s site, information about cars, forum, and much, much more. This site is informative and also very funny.
  • Access Mobility Systems is a qualified Adaptive Equipment Dealer under the Chrysler, Ford, GM and Saturn Mobility Programs: AMS offers Direct Billing for Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, L&I, Tricare (Champus) and Veterans Administration.
  • Wheelchair accessible minivans:
  • Family Village Accessibility’s page on Adaptive Driving has some helpful links on car modification:
  • Not sure if you will be able to drive? Visit the National Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists web page:

We are hesitant to recommend specific brands because buying a car is a very personal thing and no one car fits everyone. However, the following models have been recommended and driven by people with Kniest/SED/SMD:

Many taller SED’s and SMD’s have found that the following cars can be driven without adaptations:

  • Honda Accord
  • Ford Focus
  • Chevy Cavalier
  • Audi A4’s and other vehicles in which the steering wheel telescopes in and out
  • Smaller SUV’s, such as the Toyota RAV4, have great visibility. Some people report that larger SUV’s have bigger blind spots.

Other tips:

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How to get dealers to pay for orthopedic adaptations to make the car fit a small person

  • If you buy a new vehicle, you can get reimbursed for up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment. Please see web site This site features a state by state adaptive equipment locator.

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Pedal Extensions

  • Pedal extensions designed by the father of a person with SED:
    These extensions are made from stainless steel adjustable from 6 to 14 inches, and can be installed and removed with minimal time and effort for easy transfers to other vehicles. These are made by the parent of a son with SED. They work well for people with KSG.
  • Look in the Dwarfism resources for pedal extensions. There are a few you can buy. If you sit one foot or closer to the steering wheel, pedal extensions may be able have you sit a safe distance from the airbag.
  • If you decide to get pedal extensions and feet are dangling when they do not touch the pedals, it is a good idea to get a raised floor. Dangling feet are uncomfortable and can lead to joint problems.
  • Driving comfortably increases safety.
  • If you have your car modified, hand controls, pedal extensions or a raised floor, only use a certified mechanic.

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Hand Controls for Driving

There are permanent hand control systems that need to be installed by a mechanic. You may need to get a special license to drive with the hand controls.

  • Look in the Dwarfism resources for hand controls.
  • We can not comment on the safety of permanent vs. portable hand control systems. It is possible to rent vehicles with hand controls, though it is a good idea to call in advance.
  • If you have your car modified, hand controls, pedal extensions or a raised floor, only use a certified mechanic.

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Seats/Seat Belts

If you have a short trunk, you will need some sort of cushions to safely see over the wheel. It is important that whatever you use to sit higher in the seat be stable.

  • Look in the Dwarfism resources for pillows and seat cushions.
  • For special car seats for children with disabilities, visit
  • Cosco Alpha Omega, which is a convertible Toddler is recommended for children with dwarfism like Kniest, SED, and SMD.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Ease of Use Ratings program:
    You can also call You can also call 1-888-DASH-2-DOT or 1-866-SEATCHECK. (last checked October 2004)/
  • Another site for car seats for older children is They also sell other adaptive equipment including bath seats, walkers, wheelchairs designed for children, and ergonomically modified items for everyday use.
  • The Cosco Dreamride™ Car Bed allows small babies to ride while lying down flat.
  • Safetybeltsafe USA,, is the national, non-profit organization dedicated to child passenger safety.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Car Best Practices Guide:
  • Good overview of car seats:
  • This site contains a database of which car seats fit specific cars:
  • Seat belt strangling you?

    Do you slide the seat belt under your arm? Moving the seat-belt under your arm can be dangerous in the case of an accident. There are belt adjusting devices with this problem. Click here to go to a device which makes seat belts fit better.
  • Cabelas has many options for adult booster seats:
  • Boat seats can make excellent adult booster seats. They are firm, small, and stable. Many little people find them comfortable and they are able to adapt these seats for driving.
  • Long list of gadgets to make the car more accessible and comfortable:
  • To sit higher in the seat consider buying a back rests that are one solid unit. You can fold a blanket under the back rest and strap the whole thing to the seat. Bicycle stores sell compression straps that can straps the back rest to the car seat.
  • See for some options in car seats designed to ease low back pain.
  • You can also have a custom cushion made for a car. It is important that it provide enough back support.
  • You can buy car seats at store which specialize in wheelchairs. Click here to go to the Vermont Country Store’s car seat.
  • An alternative to the above suggestions is to have a new seat constructed and replace the car’s original seat. Some cars have seats that are very adjustable.
  • If you have your car modified, hand controls, pedal extensions or a raised floor, only use a certified mechanic.

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Those with neck mobility limitations will be better able to see blind spots by using specially designed mirrors:

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What to do about Air Bags?