I’m not sure how easy it is st start to learning to drive in other countries work if you’re disabled. But starting to drive in the UK is a nuisance, or it is if you have a disability before you start to drive anyway.
In the UK, you can apply for a licence when you are sixteen years old – it sounds great when you know your friends can’t apply until they’re seventeen. However, there is a reason why they say sixteen for disabled individuals… it takes you a year to get your provisional licence.
When I was younger, like many young girls – I thought I could travel the world on the horse and I was adamant that I was not going to learn to drive because cars terrified me. The opinion of my younger self was that they should be destroyed and we should revert back to horse and carriage.
Then I grew up. I realised that if I needed to go somewhere, public transport was a nightmare. I couldn’t balance on busses, no one gives you the priority seats and the drivers don’t wait for you to sit down. And I knew there was no chance that the horse and carriage would overtake cars so I had to learn how to drive.
Applying for a licence
My dad helped me apply for a licence but we were being sent through loops.
Applying for a licence is the same whether you are disabled or not … except to apply for a disabled licence you need to know what adaptions you require to drive.
Here’s the tricky part.
To know what adaptions you need you have to go to an assessment with the RDAC (Regional Driving Assessment centre); in order to have an assessment, you need a licence – which they won’t give you unless you’ve had an assessment.
Dad and I spent weeks on the phone, in letters, trying to get out of this loop. Eventually, someone from the DVLA told us to guess the adaptions and so we did. My licence came around three months later and I was really excited.
Motability is great! They give you 40 hours free driving lessons if you meet their criteria and you pass the theory test in twelve hours of the lessons. They help you find an instructor that is familiar with the adaptions you need.
The closest instructor to me was in Nottingham, roughly 90 minutes from where I lived. However, I probably wasn’t the easiest student to teach. My lane discipline was awful, I had no idea how to drive across roundabouts and my advanced planning was limited. All common with new drivers, but I didn’t seem to improve on these even after thirty hours.
Thankfully, my dad helped me by taking me places frequently. However, I still hadn’t passed my test by the time the forty hours had come. So, Dad and I went out driving even more and paying my instructor for a two-hour lesson just before my test.
I took my test twice… but I passed!
Now I drive everywhere!
Adaptations I use:
This is a Lodgestone’s lollipop stick – 13 way. It allows me to control the indicators, the full beam light, the horn and the screenwash and wipers without taking my hand off the steering wheel.
This works by inferred connection with the car, and the long handle at the bottom of the buttons means that I can steer the car with that rather than the wheel itself. Occasionally, I’ll accidentally press the horn when trying to turn the indicators off but it works well and I’d not be able to drive without it.
If my dad wants to drive my car, all he’ll have to do is press the button and release it from the wheel.
This is a twin-flip accelerator and brake. It allows me to accelerate and brake the car using my left foot. However, if I am unable to drive, or just too tired, my dad only has to flip the left accelerator up and the right one will come down so that he is able to drive my car.
I also have an easy-release hand-brake that helps me to release it and get my car moving
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