Sitting too close to the steering wheel can present an air bag danger to smaller individuals. Short stature drivers may not be able to reach the gas and brake pedals on a vehicle even when the seat is fully forward. Car modifications are required to allow shorter individuals to operate a motor vehicle. These kits vary according to the driver’s height.
Short stature is defined as an adult height under 4 feet 10 inches. At this height and under, the term Dwarfism is often used. Achondroplasia is the form of short stature that is very common and the type that many individuals are familiar with. Proportionate, or proportional, Dwarfism is a form where the individual’s overall body is proportional but their height is less than average.
Pedal extension kits are available in several types. The common extensions are designed to add two to three inches to the length of the original gas and brake pedals. This style works well for shorter adults but not for those with Dwarfism.
Individuals with Proportionate Dwarfism need longer extensions. The author’s daughters are 4′ 8 inches and 4′ 5 inches. At a height of 4′ 5 inches, a longer kit, one that allows for 4 to 6 inches in length and height is required.
For those with Achondroplasia, or other forms of short stature, modifications may require the use of hand operated gas and brake controls.
In addition to choosing the longer length extension kit, I choose a kit designed to work with most vehicle models. Kits are available for specific vehicles, but I wanted a kit that would work on my current vehicle while my daughter is learning to drive and would then transfer to her own vehicle. The cost for these kits does not really allow for purchasing them in quantity. The universal types do require a bit more work for proper installation.This kit was just under $120.
The extensions did not really come with any instructions. The packaged contained one page of information with pictures of the final assembly. There were extra bolts included, none of which helped with the installation I needed. The gas pedal extension installed fairly easily. It did require adjustments for the length, height from the floor and angle of the pedal itself. These adjustments can be completed for both extensions. If you look at the attached pictures, you will notice the numerous holes available for changing the dimensions.
The brake pedal presented a major challenge. To begin with, I had to loosen all of the 1 ½-inch adjustment bolts with a breaker bar. The nuts were tightened past the point of a normal wrench. The connection to the pedal was also a problem, it was easier to remove all of the bar lengths and install the mounting section first.
The mounting section came with a wedge that could be used to adapt to different style brake pedals. I gave up on the wedge; it did not work. The original attachment bolts were excessively long, even with the wedge. I was able to find some ¼ -20s about two inches in length, that did work. Once the mounting base was installed, I began to install the extension pieces. I ended up only using one extension bar and the pedal itself. Using two bars made the piece exceptionally long.
Do note the original position of the gas and brake pedals. The brake pedal normally sits one to two inches closer to the driver than the gas pedal. Try to maintain this setting for the most comfortable driving. I am able to operate my vehicle with this modification installed. I now sit quite far back from the steering wheel and it takes some getting used to. However, the kit allows for both my daughter and myself to drive safely.
The pictures provided with the article should offer much better installation information than the manufacturer’s instructions. The extensions do not add excessive weight and the pedals are just as easy to operate as before modification. If you need further support as a short stature individual, do contact the Little People of America.
The author paid full purchase price for this pedal extension set and received no compensation from the manufacturer for writing this article.