With the wheelchair directly in front of the steering wheel

Bruno Haßler's new car has been built for the future - flexible adaptability.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…..

Bruno  Haßler presses his horn three times – a small switch, with which he can  steer up to ten secondary functions, such as the handbrake – and  it  immediately flashes on the right. “ Take care and hold tight“, the  driving instructor, Ralf Buhmann warns, “ Brake test passed“, he  praises. The last and most important test is the steering ability with  the installed hand fork. “ He must manage a complete turn without  repeated pushing and gripping „, Buhmann explains. “ It’s really  important when turning a complete circle and at roundabouts.“ These are  the first driving practices for Bruno Haßler in his new Peugeot  Traveller.

Until now he  has been using his VW Passat, fitted out with the standard 10-N-  mobility steering and hand fork, with an acceleration, brake slide  control and a wheelchair loading system. The 67 year old has been in a  wheelchair since a motorbike accident in 1969. He could move out of his  wheelchair to drive until he got problems with his shoulder. “ It got  more and more difficult and then my wheelchair slid away from me“, said  the once Paralympics  table tennis champion. „Driving was no problem but  help was needed when ge in and out.“

His new car has “ light steering“ with 6N and a radial hand operated device  for acceleration and braking. In the future he will be able to drive  with his wheelchair directly in front of the steering wheel using the  PARAVAN cassette lift. For this reason, the steering block will  be especially lengthened by seven centimeters „, eports Arthur Flaig,  the technician responsible for the conversion,“ to provide the best  possible place for the wheelchair. „

Bruno Haßler’s folding wheelchair has also been modified, a spike has been  attached underneath so that it can be secured to the vehicle’s floor  using a fixture. “ I didn’t imagine the wheelchair would be such a good  driver’s seat, “ Bruno Haßler reports after his first drive. “ It feels  sturdy .“ The wheelchair is also secured by an electric backrest. The  individually fitted backrest support slots into the wheelchair by  pressing a button. Then a normal safety belt is put on. Lastly, the integrated armrest, for his right arm with which he accelerates and  brakes, comes to rest in the chosen position.

The  best possible seat is important for fatigue free driving „, Thomas  Minden, the technical expert, explains. There is also a flexible backrest which can be used for the passenger seat when Bruno Haßler is  being chauffeured by his sister. Bruno Haßler played table tennis in the  A league for 18 years. Before his accident he only played as a hobby.  He finally discovered that it is his sport at the Murnauer Clinic while  doing rehabilitation sport. “ I was always a mad sportsman and I wanted  to do it.“ He played in big competitions, worldwide, in the 1980s and  90s, won at the Paralympics. „I’ve never missed a big championship and  have always stood on the winner’s podium“, he says. Later he was active  as a trainer in his hometown club in Radolfzell, as well as working as  an industrial clerk.

His  new car is all set for the future. Even if his shoulder problems should  worsen, his car is designed to carry on being adaptable. Bruno Haßler is very satisfied with his new car, the light steering, acceleration and  brakes. He really doubted that he would ever be able to sit in his  wheelchair with a similar feeling as when in the driver’s seat. “ It has  been fulfilled 100 percent and the steering is easy“, he says.   Meanwhile Bruno Haßler has driven several thousand kilometers. His first  long drive was to Passau. His sister Rosemarie is now driven more  often. “ Now you can be the passenger“, he said to her.

 

Text & photos: Paravan