Spinners

A steering spinner or steering knob is a small rotating handle which is fitted onto the steering wheel, to enhance one-handed control of the steering wheel. It gives the driver far greater control when manoeuvring the vehicle, however they also have the effect of making the steering super-sensitive at high speeds and it is essential that the driver is correctly trained in how to drive with a spinner.

There are a variety of shapes and sizes available, and they are generally selected according to what hand function the driver has.  They are made up of a base which is clamped to the steering wheel, and the spinner handle. These come with the option of having a quick release system where the handle can easily be removed from the base, thus only leaving the base on the steering wheel.

Photos showing a variety of spinner grips. 

Photos showing quick release spinner bases.

Easy Drive, EZ drive and Shoprider can supply a variety of spinners which provide infrared control of the secondary controls of the vehicle. These are particularly useful for a person who drives with one arm. These can program between 7 – 12 functions.

Spinner with controls
Spinner with controls

Advantages and Disadvantages of driving with spinners:

Although spinners provide improved steering control when steering with one hand or with a weak grip, they also have a lot of disadvantages and a survey done by Auto-mobility found that only 35% of drivers using hand controls in South Africa also use spinners.

When doing the driving licence tests, the Licensing Department wants spinners to be used by everyone who drives with hand controls, and drivers will lose a few points for steering if they do the test with hand controls and without a spinner. However it is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of driving with a spinner.

Advantages

  • Manoeuvring much easier
  • Better grip and control of steering – no palming
  • No release of steering while turning 360˚
  • Provides grip for quadriplegic hands.

Disadvantages

  • Limited to one position on steering wheel which results in strong and weak zones of steering.
  • Gets in the way of loading wheelchair.
  • Safety in event of accident.

The most common positions on the steering wheel for a spinner are as follows:

right handLeft hand

10 o’clock

8 o’clock


Right handleft hand

2 o’clock

4 o’clock

Strong and weak steering zones are created as a result of not being able to move the hand into a different position on the wheel while turning it.steering zone for left hand drivers

e.g. For a left hand driver, when moving between 12 to 2 turning clockwise or between 8 to 6 while turning in an anti-clockwise direction, they will find that these are ‘weak zones’. The opposite applies for drivers who steer with their right hands.

Where the driver has shoulder weakness, they may find that when turning the steering wheel slowly, they can get stuck in the weak zones, creating a safety problem. It is preferable for them to move their hand back into their stronger zone where they can use their optimum strength to provide a positive steering action. Unfortunately the spinner does not allow the grip position to move as it is limited to one a single point.

Alternative grips on steering wheel:

Due to the weak and strong zones in the steering action, some people with shoulder weakness prefer to use different grips on the steering wheel instead of a spinner as this enables them to move their hands to different areas of the steering and always work in their strongest zones. A broader steering wheel with a non-slip surface allows the use of a tenodesis grip for steering.