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"When I started learning to drive I found it very challenging -
but I got there eventually, after two years and four tests. I drive
an automatic and I started with a steering ball and an extension on
the left hand indicator but I now manage without them. I have been
driving for four years now and have driven many miles now, from
Suffolk to Cornwall, and I love it."
As your child becomes a young adult, they might think about
learning to drive. Many people with hemiplegia can learn to drive,
usually an automatic car with power steering and modifications to
the controls as necessary (e.g. steering ball, indicator lever
extension or infra-red control, swivel seat, pedal adaptation for
those with right hemiplegia).
A visual impairment or a learning disability can be a barrier to
becoming a driver, and anyone with epilepsy must be seizure free
for one year (with or without medication) to hold a licence. When
applying for a provisional licence, epilepsy must be declared along
with hemiplegia and anything else that might affect one's ability
Go to www.direct.gov.uk/en/motoring
and follow links to find out more about learning to drive and
download a medical form to send with the application.
Anyone with a disability will have to be assessed to check
whether they will be able to drive and what adaptations they will
need to do so. There is generally a charge for assessments, and
prices vary from centre to centre.
Mobility has a network of centres around the UK, and its
extensive website has all kinds of information and links for
disabled drivers. Although independent, the centres are recognised
by other mobility organisations including Motability and the Driver
and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
"Having now been driving for nearly two years, I can look
back at learning as a positive experience. It took two years to
learn and literally hundreds of hours of lessons and practice.
Nevertheless, with perseverance and determination I did get there,
and this can be true for many others with hemiplegia. The very fact
that it took me so long indicates that driving can and did prove
difficult, yet not impossible. Having a specialist instructor with
the necessary patience was invaluable."
"Originally, due to under emphasis of my disability, I was
on the lower rate, but thankfully, through help with form filling
via welfare advice, my allowance was reviewed, changed to the
higher rate, enabling me to have a vehicle through the scheme. The
cars are changed every three years and are fully covered for
insurance and servicing."
If your child is getting the PIP higher-rate mobility component,
"I have a Motability car which I find essential for my
independence - it allows me a tremendous amount of
"My Ford Fiesta, chosen from a range of cars, colours, etc.
has adaptations, which include a flip accelerator pedal, steering
wheel knob and controls, and I had to fund these myself; however
the car itself has been provided through the Motability
If you're thinking about Motability, be aware that many cars
need a deposit (and for an automatic this costs more than a
manual). Adaptations may also need to be paid for, although some
grants are available. Some prefer to buy a car on a loan in the
normal way and use PIP to cover monthly repayments.
Young people may also be able to get financial help for learning
to drive and adaptations from charity sources or through local
social services or the Access to Work scheme (contact your local
Jobcentre Plus for more information).
People with a disability do not have to pay VAT on having a
vehicle adapted to suit their condition, or on the lease of a
Motability vehicle. For more information go to the
Revenue & Customs site. HMRC does not require a disabled
person to be receiving PIP to qualify - the site has HMRC's own
form to fill in where the applicant will just have to state that
they have a disability.
You can buy converted vehicles secondhand, and many Motability
cars come on the market when their three year lease is up. Bear in
mind that there may be safety issues, and you should factor in any
The Disabled Living Foundation has a list of sources of
secondhand equipment - follow the link to factsheets at www.dlf.org.uk.
Getting car insurance can be a problem for disabled drivers,
especially young ones. The following companies offer cover (for 16
year olds as well).
En Route Insurancewww.enrouteinsurance.co.uk
Fish Insurancewww.fishinsurance.co.uk [TB3] Back