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04.03.2024

PARAVAN driving school

Driving license with joystick

At the PARAVAN Driving Schools in the Aichelau Mobility Park and at the Heidelberg branch, people with disabilities can complete their driver's license training. An extensive fleet of different, flexibly adaptable vehicles makes it possible for Marina, for example, who is only 85 centimeters tall, to complete her practical driving training in a relaxed manner.

Marina has been completing her practical driving training at the PARAVAN Driving School in the Aichelau Mobility Park for a good three weeks now. "The first few trips were around Aichelau," reports the 31-year-old, who came to the Swabian Alb from the Rhineland. "It's going quite well, but it's more challenging than I thought." The social worker uses the Space Drive driving and steering system and two individually positioned joysticks; she accelerates and brakes with her left hand and steers with her right. Her short arms and limited muscle strength prevent her from using a conventional steering wheel.

However, this is not a problem in the training car, which can be individually adapted to the learner driver. Everything is flexible and can be varied. Marina uses voice control to operate the car's secondary functions. "Now accelerate smoothly and take the bend with a little momentum," instructor Ralf Buhmann encourages and praises: "Navigating with the joystick is going quite well. Now we just need to improve our speed and safety. City driving will soon be on the agenda. She has set aside four to five weeks. "For me, it's freedom, independence and self-determination that I'm experiencing here. It's a completely different perspective from the driver's seat and it's so much fun," says Marina, who wants to drive herself to work in the near future.

She completed her theoretical training in her hometown. In addition to new drivers, PARAVAN Driving Schools also welcome people returning to driving. People who have fallen ill or had an accident later in life can, under certain conditions, regain their driving license, subject to the requirements noted in the traffic medical report. "It is important not to give up your license right away," says driving instructor Ralf Buhmann. "After an accident or illness, you should first contact a traffic physician and seek advice." This report is a prerequisite for admission to driving training and certifies that the driver is fit to drive under certain technical conditions. Training can then begin. A technical report confirms the functionality and correct handling of the necessary adaptations.

The PARAVAN Driving School has a total of five vehicles at its headquarters: two Mercedes Sprinters and a Peugeot Traveller, equipped with the Space Drive driving and steering system, as well as various electromechanical hand-held devices and a so-called "light steering system of 10 or 6 Newtons (N)" for when the driver's strength is declining but it is not yet necessary to switch to a joystick. For students who are still able to switch, there are also two other training vehicles equipped with electric skid boards and electromechanical driving and steering aids, among other things. Another driving instructor, Carsten Seidler, runs the driving school at the PARAVAN branch in Heidelberg. Here, too, highly specialized driving training is possible with the necessary force measurements in advance, as well as Space Drive and a variety of input devices.

Driving instructors with the appropriate training can train people with physical disabilities in conjunction with the appropriate training vehicle. The PARAVAN driving instructors are happy to advise and train. They are also currently looking for new colleagues. "You need a lot of patience and understanding. That's the most important thing," says Buhmann. However, the students' enthusiasm for the training is unique and cannot be compared to a conventional driving school. "The prospect of being able to participate in life independently again after passing the driving test is the greatest motivation. For the instructor, the greatest reward is seeing the happy faces afterwards. After all, being able to drive a vehicle independently means a significant improvement in quality of life.

There are countless stories that colleagues remember and that encourage them in their work, such as the one about a worker who fell from a ladder while cutting down a tree and has been paralyzed ever since: "When we were testing his new car together, at one point he turned to the right and cried. No, he was crying his eyes out - he was so happy," says driving instructor Horst Hilsenbeck. This is just one of many stories, but the driving instructors in Aichelau also face another challenge: In addition to their actual job, they are also test and development drivers, for example when it comes to further developing and optimizing the digital driving and steering system.

Five milestones to a driving licence

The first step is a traffic medical evaluation. A specialist will assess your cognitive abilities. If all is well, a specialized driving school with modified driving school vehicles can be found. This will determine what aids are needed. At the end of the process, a technical report is issued - the basis for the conversion of the vehicle for the disabled at the conversion company. This is followed by the driving school training, which ends with the driving aptitude test or practical driving test for new drivers. Here, the candidate must prove that he or she can drive the vehicle safely on the road with the appropriate modifications. The driver's license is then issued. The next step is to select a suitable base vehicle. Depending on the case, it may be possible to apply for reimbursement of the vehicle conversion costs.

Marina is only 85 centimeters tall and completes her PARAVAN driving training with the help of two joysticks. A short time later, another student can sit in the car with a completely different vehicle configuration and still receive optimal training. Photo: PARAVAN
The PARAVAN driving school is ideal for Marina to complete her practical training in peace and quiet. Thanks to the extremely flexible driving school vehicle and a seat shell, she can complete her driving lessons in a relaxed manner. Later, she will be given a customised driver's seat. She can then transfer directly into the vehicle using a PARAVAN transfer console. Photo: PARAVAN
Ralf Buhmann and Horst Hilsenbeck (from left) from the PARAVAN driving school in the Aichelau mobility park have the necessary qualifications and a versatile driving school fleet with which they can train almost any complaint. Photo: PARAVAN
The PARAVAN driving school's Mercedes Sprinter offers many options and can be converted very quickly as required, from a simple mechanical slope control unit to the Space Drive electronic driving and steering system. Photo: PARAVAN
What is the optimum input device? Extensive testing can be carried out in the PARAVAN training vehicle. The aim is to find a comfortable and, above all, fatigue-free solution. Photo: PARAVAN
A high-resolution camera system, positioned on the car as required, provides the perfect all-round view. Monitors with the necessary environment recognition in the vehicle transmit the image and show how far away people and objects are from the car and whether they are moving. Photo: PARAVAN
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Driving license with joystick

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Press & PR
Anke Leuschke

Fon: +49 (0)7388 9995 81
Fax: +49 (0)7388 9995 999

 

 


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