Driving With a Short Stature

You have finally reached the age where you can get a driver’s license, but you are concerned you may not be able to reach the pedals. Like other people with short stature, you struggle to use vehicles designed for taller drivers. It may be a challenge to see over the steering wheel, reach the controls, or even get in and out of the vehicle. But this need not prevent you from getting into the driver’s seat. Regardless of your height or proportions, there are many ways your vehicle can be modified to accommodate you so you can experience the freedom of the open road.

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What is a Short Stature?

In the United States, for adult men, short stature is defined as standing under 5’5”. For women, a height under 5’0” would be considered short.


A person with short stature can fall into one of two categories. If their body parts all have the proper size in relation to their spine, but the individual is just smaller, they are said to have proportionate short stature (PSS). If their limbs are out of proportion to their trunk, they have disproportionate short stature (DSS)


 

Am I too short to drive?

Many people with short stature wonder if they are too short to drive. Actor Verne Troyer, whose height was only 2’8”, dispelled this notion by driving a normal sized car on a regular basis. From a physical standpoint, no one is too short to drive, they may just need some adaptive devices to help them.

There are no laws that require drivers to be a certain height, though you still must meet the vision and health requirements of any other driver. 

How Does a Short Stature Affect My Ability to Drive?

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  1. Difficult to set the seat in a position where you can reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel. 
  2. Getting into and out of the car can be difficult, depending on the make and model of the car.
  3. Shorter arms may also make reaching the controls or seatbelts a challenge.
  4. For those whose short stature is caused by achondroplasia, limited limb mobility can mean that operating the pedal, even with extenders, can be difficult (but this may be able to be solved with hand controls)
  5. Having short stature can also pose a safety risk if your vehicle has airbags. If the airbag goes off when you are seated lower and closer to the wheel, the can seriously injure you. Many guidelines suggest that a person be at least 4’9” if they are seated in the front of a vehicle with an airbag. If you are under that height, check with a dealership about getting your airbag disabled.
  6. Another issue is that a short person’s height doesn’t line up with various safety and comfort features within the car. The sun visor may not come down low enough to shield their eyes from the sun during early morning or late evening hours. Seat belts may cross their neck or face and need to be adjusted. 

What Next Street Looks For When Assessing

When you meet with our Certified Driver Rehab Specialist, we will do a number of things to evaluate you. We will check your vision and reflexes. We will also check your strength and flexibility, and measure how well you can reach the controls of a vehicle. If we determine it is necessary, we will write you a prescription for any adaptive devices you may need and teach you how to use them.

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Want to read and learn more?

Check out the Driver Rehab blog to learn more about driving with a short stature.

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