Driving lessons for people with disabilities
There are no rules to say that people with disabilities are not allowed to drive. If you receive the higher rate of the mobility component Disability Living Allowance, then you can at the age of 16 (which is a year younger than the legal age of driving currently at the age of 17) start the learning process. Learners between the ages of 16-24 may be able to get help from motability to financially aid them with the cost of learning to drive.
Firstly, like all other learners you will need to apply for a provisional licence; while waiting for your licence to arrive it would be a good time to start looking for driving instructors who have modified cars that you can learn to drive in and that will allow you to drive safely regardless of your disability. In most cases an automatic is most suited and depending on your disability, you may require a vehicle that has controls you can use by hand, usually found near and around the steering wheel.
There are specially run organisations that have been set up to guide instructors how to teach disabled learner drivers so they can learn to drive safely and independently. If you qualify for motability, you may be able to purchase a car and drive in the specially adapted vehicle for your driving lessons. Insurance will be higher and there will be no dual controls but this is an option if you are worried about learning in your instructor’s car. As the demand for driving instructors with experience to teach those with disabilities continue to increase, there are now much more choice in choosing a driving instructor whereas before you probably only had the option of two instructors.
A really good instructor will not only teach you how to drive and build up your confidence on the road but also teach you how to operate any adapted controls and how to get in and out of a car easily and if applicable using a wheelchair. When it comes to the theory test and the practical test, you may be offered extra time to complete them if you have proof such as a doctor’s letter. If you have dyslexia, you may be given extra time for your theory and if you are deaf you may also be granted extra time to prevent you from rushing.
It is your responsibility to inform the DVLA of any changes to your health but it doesn’t always mean your licence will be suspended. As long as you pass a medical or your doctor confirms you are still fit and able to drive safely, you can continue as normal.