Isabelle Weall is a quadruple amputee who uses her platform to share the story of her incredible journey. In her latest post, Isabelle talks about her experience of learning to drive in her adapted Motability car, the hours of practice with her mum and dad and what happened when she recently took her driving test.
At the start of July this year I was able to start learning how to drive using my brand new specially adapted Motability car. Due to the Coronavirus and the national lockdown that the UK faced my lessons were delayed, so when I was finally able to start learning it was really exciting for me.
I selected a driving instructor through Derby DrivAbility as they were familiar with my adaptations and would therefore be able to effectively teach me. Before my first driving lesson I had been out in my car with my parents a few times to get used to the vehicle and to see how it felt to drive it with all the adaptations.
During my first lesson I learnt so much. I was able to pick up everything that my instructor taught me so quickly. Driving an automatic meant that there was less to initially learn as I didn’t have to get used to changing gears and controlling the clutch. We mainly focused on roundabouts during this first lesson, but we still managed to visit some busy areas. This initial lesson was great. I really gained confidence and managed to finally grasp how to use the bleeper system for my indicators, something that I had found really difficult up until this point.
During my driving lessons I kept picking up new things and experiencing new roads as I learnt everything my instructor said I needed to know. We practiced on really narrow roads, dual carriageways and in the busy town centre. After each week I could recognise my confidence behind the wheel growing, making it easier for me to get around.
In between the lessons my parents would take me out to run errands which meant I got the chance to drive to new locations and it forced me to practice my parking skills. I also had to learn all the manoeuvres that I could be asked to perform during my practical test, such as parallel parking (which I found was one of the more difficult elements of driving).
After around two months of weekly lessons my instructor told me that had learnt everything that I needed to become a fully qualified driver, so I began practicing test routes and perfecting my manoeuvres.
I completed a mock test with my driving instructor (during which I did everything you would in a genuine test situation), and afterwards they confirmed that I was ready to book my proper driving practical test.
So, I got in touch with the test centre and booked a date for my main driving test, and this gave me a goal to focus all my practicing towards. I felt truly motivated to explore new destinations and gain more experience, plus I also took my car out in the dark for the first time. All this really built up my driving confidence and refined my driving skills, preparing me for what would hopefully be a first-time pass!
After plenty of studying and a few practices I passed my driving theory test in September, which meant I was now able to take my actual driving test.
I was booked in for my practical test on the 12th October, a little nervous but also very excited. After a few more lessons I went down to the test centre to take my test….and I passed (with only 1 minor fault!).
Amazing! Now I can drive myself wherever I want to go. The gym, school, into town, Costa Coffee…anywhere I want. I’m still a little cautious, but it’s great to have so much independence now.