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Learning To Drive With A Disability If your disability is only minor, it is likely that you can learn to drive in a standard car or one that only requires minor modification, for example:
a car with automatic transmission
a steering ball on the steering wheel
power assisted steering -left-foot accelerator.
If you have a more severe disability then a range of more complex adaptations may be required, for example:
remote control devices
To assess your own specific requirements, and to assess whether you are medically fit to drive, it is advisable to employ the services of a specialist Driving Assessment Centre. These centres will test your ability to drive and give you advice on the type of car modifications you would need to drive safely and in comfort. A list of these centres, with addresses, can be found below.
Most centres offer a free advice service, however a charge will usually be made for the driving assessment. The centre will provide the following information:
eligibility to apply for a provisional or full driving licence
possible learning and other difficulties whilst learning to drive
suitable cars and adaptations
local driving instructors registered to teach learners with disabilities.
Car Adaptations - Steering Power assisted steering: standard in most new cars PAS can be tailor made to suit individual requirements. If you can only use one hand to steer, PAS is a must.
Steering ball: this is fitted to the steering wheel and helps make steering easier.
Joystick System: this can be fitted to a car with automatic transmission if you are unable to turn the steering wheel. This means the car can be steered without having to turn the steering wheel.
Foot steering: can also be used if you have no useful function in your arms, but have full use in both legs.
Braking & Accelerating AdaptationsFoot pedals: if you can't use your right foot, the brake and accelerator pedals can be moved to the left-side on a car with automatic transmission.
If you are short, foot pedals can be extended to suit your size.
Knee controls: if the feet are not reliable, but the hip and knee joints are functioning, adaptations can be fitted to allow a driver to operate the accelerator and brake controls with the in and out movement of the thigh.
Hand Controls: if the lower limbs cannot be used to accelerate and brake, then either hand can be used.
Joystick: a four-way joystick can be fitted to a car with automatic transmission, which enables the driver to drive using only one limb. The joystick is placed to the side of the steering wheel, and the driver pushes the stick to the right or left for steering and pushes forward and backwards for the accelerator and brake.
Tiller: this system combines steering, accelerating and braking. The steering wheel is replaced by two handles either side of the steering column, and is steered like a motorcycle. Acceleration is achieved by twisting one of the handles, and braking is achieved by pushing the whole steering unit downwards.
Gear selector: This can be modified to suit a driver's restricted movement, or an electric system of selecting a gear can be fitted anywhere in the vehicle.
Secondary Controls AdaptationsIf you have trouble operating indicators, lights, windscreen wipers etc then an infrared or radio-controlled switch panel can be used.
Below is a list of
Disability Mobility Centres Addresses
BelfastBelfast Disability Action
Portside Business Park
189 Airport Road
Tel: 02890 297880
& Vehicle Info Service
Tel: 01344 661000
CardiffSouth Wales Mobility and
Driving Assessment Service Rookwood Hospital
Cardiff CF5 2YN
Tel: 029205 55130
CornwallCornwall Mobility Centre
Royal Cornwall Hospital
Tel: 01872 254921
Denbighshire North Wales Mobility and Driving Assessment Service
Tel: 01745 58 48 58
Derbyshire Derby Regional Mobility Centre
Tel: 01332 371929
Edinburgh Scottish Driving Assessment Service
Astley Ainslie Hospital
133 Grange Loan
Tel: 01315 379192
Hampshire Southampton Wessex DriveAbility
Tel 023 80512222
Hertfordshire Hertfordshire Action on Disability
The Woodside Centre
Welwyn Garden City
Tel: 01707 324581
Kent Dart Driving Assessement & Advice Centre
Preston Hall Hospital
Tel: 01622 795719
Lancashire Wrightington Mobility Centre
Tel: 01257 256409
Norfolk Kilverstone Mobility Assessment Centre
2 Napier Place
Tel: 01842 753029
Somerset Bristol Mobility Service of the Disabled
Living Centre (West of England)
The Vassell Centre
Tel: 0117 965 9353
Surrey Queen Elizabeth's Foundation Mobility Centre
Tel: 020 87701151
Tyne and Wear North East Drive Mobility
Walkergate Park Centre for Neuro-rehabilitation & Neuro-psychiatry
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 2875090
West Midlands Birmingham Regional Driving Assessment Centre
West Heath Hospital
Tel: 0121 6278228
Yorkshire Leeds The William Merritt Disabled Living Centre and Mobility Service
St Mary's Hospital
Green Hill Road
Tel: 01133 055288
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