Driving – driving with disability


General / Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Driving On The Roads…

Learning to drive is something a lot of us decided to take up in our lives. The convinence of driving a car can help so much. Driving to work, education or just to go shopping can be handy in many areas across the United Kingdom. Disable drivers have recently been on the decline with less users driving on the roads. It doesn’t mean disabled drivers are stop learning or driving.

Positives of Driving

Independence is Everything

Driving is something that has provided me independence. I regularly drive without the need of someone being there with me. I always in control on where I would like to go and don’t have the rely on someone and pick up me up. Alternatively, I don’t need to plan my journey to suit a certain timeframe, especially if the hours of care you get is limited. Essentially, being able to drive is a key to maintaining independence. As I already know my independence is slowly going, this is something I want to do and I will check keep doing for as long as possible.

Convenience

As was stated in the first paragraph of the post and my last point. Driving makes everything convinent. When it came to University, having a car meant I could do in store shopping and travel back home when I needed to. It also meant more shopping could be done and have somewhere to hold those large multi-packs.

Support Available

In the United Kingdom, we have government schemes like the Motability scheme that helps disabled drivers get the cars they need. Funding, financial support and down payments are available to help pay for the vehicle. If you are committed to driving your own car or need one to get around, this is a good service to go for. Everything from your insurance to servicing and M.O.T is covered under a ‘worry-free’ package, which has been really useful and has meant I’ve never had a day off the roads when I needed my car the most. Similarly, for my adaption a specialist garage convered my adaptions, which did it pretty quickly and made sure any problems were resolved since day one.

How I got Driving

Learning…

Instructor wise, I was fortunate to have one nearby who had a suitable vehicle to learn to drive in. From the first lesson up until passing, they were really professional and provided enough information to help me decide what vehicle was right for me. However, don’t worry about if the instructor has the right car for you. Some disabled driving instructors will have all the cars equipped for you to learn. My only recommendation is to ask different instructors in your area to see if they have a suitable car. Alternatively, using websites such as Disability Driving Instructors and Driving Motability, can help you find the perfect instructor for your accessibility instructor needs.

Adaptions

Although, not to worry as the right adaption can be decided once you decide to start driving a vehicle. Once I had passed my test, it was time to get myself a car. I had already had my adaption decided and the perfect ramp system to get in and out the vehicle. As I still have good upper muscle strength I went for the basic hand controls, this way I was encouraging myself to use that left over muscle when driving. However, this does mean a lot of the journeys take a bit longer with breaks to rest my arms and cut the aches, especially on hour-long plus journeys. Other adaption for more complex needs, will need more specialised driving controls, which companies like motability, etc can help with.

Theory

The theory test was pretty much a breeze. Fortunately, the venue for the exam nearby had ramp access, which meant I could go in and do the test. There were also accessible areas put in place to make sure I had enough room to complete the test. One thing to mention is that contacting the venue to show your accessible needs is recommended. There is nothing worse than booking your test, turning up and finding it isn’t accessible due to the building structure…

Driving Test

Finally, I took my driving test. As I was unable to get out the car to do the engine checks, my questions were limited to questions inside the car. Although, with any car you get, you should always try to check or get someone else to check for you. If they don’t happen to know anything about cars, be sure to explain how to complete the check. Usually when I start my car every once in a while, I will ask a family member or friend just to confirm the lights are working. Alternatively, if you do happen to come across an issue, it is important that you act on it by calling your garage or the RAC as to not restrict your ability to drive independently.

Things to Note

Fitness to Drive Test

With any disability, there are a few things you may need to consider when deciding on learning to drive. Not everyone can learn to drive but neither can people continue to drive if their health deteriorates to a certain level. It is important that you contact the DVLA if your health suddenly gets worse. Although they will have you take a checkup test, which is usually done every couple of years. These are typically done to check if you are still fit for driving.

Driving Isn’t For Everyone

One common thing I hear a lot of is people having bad experiences with driving. Unfortunately, it isn’t always for everyone. Some will continuously struggle to learn or have a bad experience that puts them off. It is important to know that driving is not for everyone. If you can get by without being able to drive yourself is fine. Transportation, such as taxis, buses, etc are available so don’t feel pressured to learn to drive if you don’t want to or dislike it.

Any Different?

Driving as someone with a disability is no different to actual driving, except the adaption part. You still get those feelings of rage and annoyance on the road, especially for me recently where I have tackled the rush hour daily. Although, the real main difference is tiredness. Whether I am driving, it does eventually hurt my arms, which is different in a sense that many will have the same feeling in the feet too.

Hopefully after reading the post, you understand about driving with a disability. We have covered the benefits, my journey and some things to consider when it comes to learning how to drive. If you enjoyed this post, please check out our other posts on the Dynamic Double blog. You can find the latest experiences, news, updates and many more experience related posts!