Ask any motorist and they'll tell you that being able to drive brings with it an unrivalled sense of freedom. If you need to go somewhere, you simply get behind the wheel and hit the road. No need to rely on public transport. No need to ask friends or family for lifts. You can get from A to B with little in the way of hassle.
For those living with a disability, however, it may seem like things are pretty limited when it comes to driving in a car of their own. And while a disability can certainly impact on your day to day in ways others take for granted, the good news is that it's still possible to be able to drive with one – whether it's visible or invisible.
To help you out, we'll take a look at driving with a disability in more detail. From seeking out specialist instructors to understanding tax and insurance, let's get started on how to stay safe and legal on the roads with a disability.
Mobility issues don't mean you can't drive. Although it depends on the severity of the disability, there are plenty of car modifications that allow disabled drivers get behind the wheel.
Whatever additions you need, whether it's for the pedals, steering wheel, gearstick or any other part of the car, you must first tell the DVLA of your condition, including mental health issues and learning difficulties. This applies whether you're a new driver applying for a provisional or you're a driver who has developed a medical or physical issue that may affect your driving.
If not, you run the risk of facing fines of up to £1000, so make sure you inform them as soon as possible.
Once you've provided the DVLA with this information, they'll assess whether or not you comply with medical standards of fitness which allow you to drive. They'll also let you know about any modifications you need to make to your vehicle so it's safe for you.
While you're not legally required to have lessons with a specialist driving instructor, such teachers are well equipped to provide more specialised advice and may be more accommodating of your disability. You'll also be able to learn in cars that have been fitted with disability-friendly modifications.
You should be able to find a specialist driving instructor in your area, though you might run into some difficulty if you live in a remote area. Head here to seek out local disability driving instructors in your area. You can also contact your local driving school – they'll be happy to discuss any options that may be able to offer you.
If you have a disability, you may be exempt from paying road tax depending on whether you meet certain criteria.
For starters, the vehicle must be registered in your name or the name of your nominated driver. The same vehicle must also only be used by you (as a disabled driver) or the nominated driver for your personal needs only. Your nominated driver can't use the car to run errands or make trips of their own without you.
You can apply for disabled car tax if you already receive the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, the enhanced rate mobility part of Personal Independence Payment, the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement, or the Armed Forces Independence Payment. If you aren't eligible for vehicle tax exemption but you still receive the standard rate mobility part for PIP, you can receive a 50% reduction in vehicle tax.
Since the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 came into effect, insurance providers and insurers cannot legally penalise those with disabilities. Essentially, you can't be refused insurance on the grounds of your disability.
There are even providers who specialise in providing disabled car insurance. Such insurers can also offer a whole range of benefits to help you out, including like-for-like cover on accessibility modifications made to your vehicle. They can also provide cover for nominated drivers and carers too!
Thanks to the Motability Scheme, motorists who receive benefits for a mobility-based disability have the opportunity to lease a car – along with mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs. Created to help disabled drivers remain independent and mobile, the Motability Scheme allows eligible recipients to put their weekly mobility allowance towards the leasing of a new car.
The scheme also offers up to 40 hours of driving lessons too. Since driving lessons can be a pricey commitment and the average learner typically requires between 40-50 hours of lessons before their test, the scheme could easily cover most, if not all, of your learning at no extra cost.
The Brindley Group is the leading provider of Motability cars in the Midlands region. We're delighted to say we've been able to help 4,000 people with all manner of different disabilities through the flexible and fuss-free scheme.
For more information on how the scheme works, eligibility, how you can get the wheels in motion of leasing a new car, and everything else you need to know check out our ultimate guide to the Motability Scheme here. Meanwhile, you can peruse our range of vehicles available through the scheme right here.
Those living with a disability that affects their mobility may be eligible for a Blue Badge permit. These handy permits allow holders to park closer to their destination, whether they're the driver or the passenger.
When correctly displayed in a vehicle, a Blue Badge provides free or discounted parking in many locations. It also allows disabled drivers to park in on-street parking bays that are specifically reserved for drivers and passengers with disabilities.
However, off-street car parks, such as those next to supermarkets and hospitals are often governed by different rules. We'd recommend checking the regulations for such locations before you attempt parking there.