Getting A Driving Licence With A Disability
It all starts by applying for a provisional driving licence, which – if you currently receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - you can apply for at the age of 16, a year before everyone else.
After applying, the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) will send you a confirmation email and your provisional licence will arrive around a week later.
When you submit your application, you’ll be asked if you have a condition that may affect your ability to drive. Bear in mind that if you suffer from something like epilepsy (unless you’ve been free of seizures for 12 months), sudden fainting or poor eyesight (even when wearing glasses) it’s unlikely you’ll be able get a licence. It might be worth getting advice from your doctor, optician or a specialist at your local Driving Mobility centre before you complete the application.
Finding A Specialist Driving Instructor
All new drivers should take driving lessons. If you have a disability, you may want to learn to drive with a professional driving instructor who specialises in teaching people with disabilities. A driving instructor who has experience of teaching disabled people to drive will be more aware of your needs and will be able to show you how to use specially-fitted driving adaptations (if you need them).
If you are planning on or have already leased a new car through the Motability Scheme you may be able to get a grant through Motability to help towards the cost of the lessons.
Passing The Driving Test – Theory
As soon as you’ve got a good understanding of the Highway Code and are starting to feel more comfortable behind the wheel, it’s time to take your theory tests. You’ll have to pass the theory test before you can book the practical test.
These tests are normally held at a local test centre, which will offer specialist facilities for people with disabilities. Candidates who have special requirements should mention this when booking the test, as the DVLA may be able to help. For example, you may be allowed extra time to complete the test or, if you have difficulty hearing the video part of the test this can be accompanied by sign language.
Passing The Driving Test – Practical
You’ll take the same practical driving test that every other candidate takes, but if you need extra time to get into and out of the car or to discuss any vehicle adaptations with the examiner this will be normally be allowed. Driving examiners have been trained to understand and try to adapt to any special requirements that may arise before, during or after you’ve been out on the road.
Taking the practical driving test is often a nerve-racking experience, and many people fail to pass it first time but don’t worry, if you do fail you’ll be able to take the test again in a month or so. With focus and plenty of practice you’ll pass the test and be ready to enjoy the freedom that driving a car brings.
Not Sure If You’ll Be Able To Drive?
If you’d like to drive a car but you’re not sure if you’d be able to because of your disability, its worth talking to a specialist at a Driving Mobility centre to find out more about the vehicle adaptations available to help disabled people drive comfortably and safely.
Driving Mobility is a network of independent organisations that offer information, advice and assessment to people who want to gain or retain independence through driving.
If you do choose to lease a car through Motability, many of the common adaptations can be fitted to the car at no extra cost. Comprehensive insurance for two drivers, RAC breakdown cover, road tax, tyre cover, windscreen damage cover and servicing and maintenance is all included for 3 years.