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By Larry Edsall

RediAuto RediAuto Sport lets paraplegic drivers shift manual transmissions
Steve Bucaro cannot walk. He's a paraplegic. But that doesn't stop him from driving a vehicle with a manual transmission, and yes, that means a vehicle with clutch, brake and gas pedals.

Bucaro owns what may be the most unique of all of the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds, the new four-door version of the venerable off-road machine. Bucaro's Jeep has what appears to be a second steering wheel, an extra lever near the gear shifter, and the shifter itself has a button-style device attached to it. The extra equipment is part of the Total Hands Driving System showcased on Bucaro's Jeep at the recent SEMA (automotive aftermarket equipment) show in Las Vegas.

"The ultimate freedom from the wheelchair is driving, and now I can drive a vehicle with a clutch," said Bucaro, who operates Check Me Out Customs, a vehicle customization and parts business in Palmdale, Calif.

Bucaro was riding his motorcycle eight years ago when a car ran a stoplight and turned directly into Bucaro's path.

The equipment that makes it possible for Bucaro and others to drive vehicles with manual transmissions – and that includes several motorsports competitors -- comes from RediAuto Sport of Santa Monica, Calif. RediAuto Sport is exclusive U.S. distributor for Guido Simplex Technology, an Italian company that develops the devices.

The equipment on Bucaro's Jeep includes a ring on the steering wheel that works the accelerator, a hand-operated brake controller and a button on the stick shifter that operates the clutch. Someone with two hands can manipulate what usually is controlled by three pedals and the steering wheel because a link between the clutch and brake controllers coordinates their operation to provide smooth starts. The link also works to keep the vehicle from slipping backward when starting on a hill or when climbing over rocks while off-roading.

RediAuto Sport was founded by Daniel Reyes, who lost his right leg when he was a pedestrian who was struck by a car. Reyes liked driving sports cars and vowed to keep driving them, and has been since discovering the Italian technology.

To fully equip a car with a manual shifter costs around $10,000. RediAuto also offers less expensive solutions for those with automatic transmissions but have lost full use of their legs to arthritis, diabetes or other ailments.

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