Learning to drive as a person with physical disabilities is a rewarding experience. Mastering the theory and skills involved can be challenging but fun, and being a fully qualified disabled driver allows you to enjoy a much higher degree of personal freedom and mobility. Learning to drive an adapted vehicle gives you even more options and independence.
But for disabled people who want to learn to drive and become fully licensed, there are often plenty of questions. What disabilities can I drive with? Is there a special driving test for people with a physical disability? What vehicle adaptations do I require? How do I apply for a test as a disabled driver? Today, we will answer all of these crucial questions.
A physical disability need not curtail a person’s independence. Driving opens up the world to people, giving them hugely increased freedom and flexibility. You can still drive despite having a disability – many disabilities do not hinder a person’s ability to drive.
The list of disabilities that you can drive with includes:
- Inability to walk without the aid of an assistive device
- Being an amputee
- Heart condition
- Lung disease
- A disability that requires the use of a portable oxygen tank
- Neuromuscular disease
- Reduced limb function
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injuries
- Degenerative disorders
- Muscular dystrophy
- Traumatic brain injury
- Cystic fibrosis
What Is Adaptive Driving For People With Disabilities?
Adaptive driving means driving a vehicle that has been adapted for use by a person with physical disabilities. There are lots of great features that can be installed in a vehicle to make it possible for a person with a physical disability to drive. These include wheelchair ramps and lifts, pedal extensions, and hand controls that allow a person to drive using only their hands.
How Can You Learn To Drive Using Adaptive Equipment?
For many physically disabled drivers, there is the added factor of needing to learn to use adaptive equipment and controls. Disabled people who are new to driving will learn to use these controls from the beginning. Drivers who become disabled will need to learn to use adaptive controls having previously used regular controls.
For disabled drivers in both situations, it is best to learn to drive using adaptive controls from a qualifying professional instructor. There are lots of instructors who specialize in teaching disabled drivers using adaptive equipment, and many driving schools have rehabilitation programs.
Is There A Special Driving Test For People With A Physical Disability?
There is no special driving test for people with physical disabilities, but if you will be driving a vehicle with adaptive equipment during your test, you will have to let the DMV know in advance. You will also take the test with an instructor who specializes in adaptive driving.
The requirements for passing the test are the same as for non-disabled drivers, but the equipment in the vehicle will be different. As a physically disabled driver, you are recommended to take your test in your own adapted vehicle.
What Requirements Must You Meet To Become A Licensed Disabled Driver?
In order to get a full driver’s license a disabled driver must:
- Be over 16 years old
- Complete the driver’s education course
- Pass the written theory test
- Pass the on-the-road driving test in a vehicle with adaptive controls
- Pass an eye examination
- Fulfill the unlicensed driver’s permit requirements
How Do You Apply For A Driving Test As A Disabled Driver?
You apply for a driving test as a disabled driver in the same way that a non-disabled driver would apply: contact your local DMV and apply to take a test.
All drivers are required to notify the DMV of any disabilities they have when applying for a test. Depending on the disability, it may be necessary to have a medical examination and/or be accessed by a driver rehabilitation specialist.
How Is A Test For A Disabled Driver Different To A Regular Test?
The test for a disabled driver is the same as the test for a non-disabled driver. The only difference is that some drivers with a physical disability will need to use adaptive controls. For these drivers, a tester who has sufficient knowledge of driving with adaptive equipment will be necessary.
You Are Entitled To Use A Disabled Parking Permit
Disabled drivers are entitled to use a disabled parking permit. A handicap parking permit is a very helpful addition to a disabled driver’s arsenal.
How To Apply For A Disabled Parking Permit
The best way to apply for a disabled parking permit is to arrange a medical consultation online through Dr. Handicap. The team will put you in contact with a local licensed physician, who will examine you to verify that you qualify for a disabled parking permit.