Adaptive Driving

For people with disabilities, getting behind the wheel may call for the use of some adaptive equipment and assistive technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association,, regulates the manufacture of automotive adaptive equipment and modified vehicles used by persons with disabilities. You can get a copy of the pamphlet Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities from NHTSA online, or by calling 888-327-4236.

On this page, we offer an introduction to Adaptive Driving through:

  • An overview of NHTSA’s suggested process for aspiring drivers
  • Financial assistance and special programs to help you get on the road

NHTSA’s Process for Aspiring Drivers

Following the steps below can help you make the best possible choices when buying and modifying a vehicle with adaptive equipment.

  • Find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist to evaluate your needs.
  • Investigate cost-saving opportunities and licensing requirements.
  • Select the right vehicle.
  • Choose a qualified dealer to modify your vehicle.
  • Obtain training on the use of new equipment.
  • Maintain your vehicle.

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists

If you have disabilities and want to start driving, your first step is to find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) who can give you comprehensive evaluation and help determine safe driving potential, needs for equipment, and a prescription for mobility equipment.
A CDRS will run an assessment covering these areas:
  • Medical history
  • Driving history
  • Driver's license status
  • Visual perception
  • Functional ability
  • Reaction time
  • Safe seating
  • Behind-the-wheel evaluation using adaptive equipment
A CDRS will provide the required training that you may need to effectively and safely drive a modified vehicle. Then, the specialist will put the wheels in motion to get you on the road legally. Ask your CDRS to connect you with proper vendors to install conversions, such as lowered-floors with a ramp, reduced-effort steering, hand controls, steering devices, and left gas pedals.
To find a CDRS in your area, go to The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists or call 866-672-9466 toll-free.

Financial Assistance for Adapting Vehicles

Financial help may be available to adapt vehicles for drivers with disabilities. Some possible sources of funding are:

  • Private health plans or worker's compensation may cover adaptive devices and vehicle modification. Contact your health plan to see if this is an eligible benefit.
  • Many non-profit organizations have grants or low-cost loan programs that help pay for modifications. Talk to your State Independent Living Center (National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)) or Family-to-Family Health Information Center (National Center for Family - Professional Partnerships (F2F HICs)) to find resources in your state.
  • Some states waive sales tax for adaptive devices with a doctor’s prescription for their use.
  • You may also qualify for savings on your federal income tax return. Check with a tax expert to see if the cost of your adaptive devices will count towards a health care deduction.
  • Many automotive manufacturers offer rebates to customers who buy mobility equipment. Each manufacturer has their own program rules, which can be found on their websites listed below.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: August 2014; last update/revision: August 2023
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Tina Persels
Reviewer: Gina Pola-Money