When I lost the use of my legs I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about driving. I was aware of hand controls but I thought they looked really complex. I spoke to Motability who offered me a driving assessment. I’ve now had 2 assessments with different adaptations. A push/pull system and an under ring electric accelerator with a push brake. The assessments can also be carried out for wheelchair accessible vehicles, loading people or wheelchairs in/out of the vehicle and a range of other adaptations. As neither where I live nor my wheelchair are suitable for a WAV, I thought it best to stick with an estate car but have hand controls.
Main Driving Assessment Centres Are Sometimes Better Than Satellite Centres
Once my appointment was booked, I was asked a few questions about my condition and how it affects me. I decided to go to one of the smaller satellite centres rather than the main driving assessment centre. I need to get back to driving ASAP, so I took the first available appointment. In hindsight it might have been better to wait for one at their main centre. They have more adaptations available to try and they’re often in more central locations. I ended up having two assessments as they have a smaller range of the adaptations at the smaller satellite centres.
What goes on in an assessment
Once there I had a quick assessment with a driving assessor as well as an occupational therapist. They went through a few checks to make sure I’m safe to drive. They also asked about what kind of limitations I currently have. After that they tried me in a car with push pull hand controls and a manual transfer plate. They got me to drive around the local area to see how I got on with it. I know some people find push/pull controls very easy. But I didn’t!! I found the jockey ball on the wheel (needed if you’re steering one handed), really hurt my shoulder. So I called up again and asked to be reassessed. This time I went to a different centre and was seen by just a driving assessor. I tried an under ring electric accelerator with a push brake. I found it so much easier than the first assessment. It was much more comfortable as well as easier to drive. I had a in depth conversation with the assessor whilst driving, which I wasn’t able to do the first time. I felt far more confident driving with this set up. Even though I haven’t drive in a good few months and I didn’t know the area.
After The Driving Assessment…
After these assessments, they wrote a report recommending the under ring system which has been sent on to Motability. Dependent on your financial situation you may be able to apply for assistance with the cost of adaptations. If you’re successful with your grant, they also often pay for a few lessons to familiarise yourself with the adaptations.
I’m really glad I decided to have an assessment rather than just hoping got on with push/pull controls. The assessors are well trained and have seen people with a wide range of disabilities. Sometimes it does take more than one assessment to get it right. But its important that you feel comfortable with the adaptations that are suggested. I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel again, even if it is just to do the school run!