Learning to Drive with a Disability

Vehicle adaptations - Ransome Mobility

Learning to drive if you have a disability can be a daunting process – but at Ransome Mobility we can make it easier for you. We supply a range of nearly new and used wheelchair access vehicles to customers across East Anglia and can fit a whole range of vehicle adaptations to your car so it’s just right for your needs, giving you the best possible chance of passing your test.

Here we outline some of the steps you need to take if you want to regain some independence in your life – how to apply for your licence, taking your test, and what to do if you develop a disability when you’ve already passed your test

The First Steps

If you are living with a disability and would like to learn to drive, then you should tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about your condition when applying for your first provisional licence. Make sure you give them your full details; if you fail to disclose all your medical conditions you could face a heavy fine.

The DVLA will then assess, based on the information you provide, if you are considered ‘fit to drive’. You can also book an appointment with a driving assessment centre in your local area, who may be able to give you some helpful advice.

Once you have your provisional licence, you can learn to drive with a qualified instructor. The DVLA assessment centre or your GP may be able to point you in the right direction if you need any recommendations or advice about instructors in your local area.

What Age Can I Start?

Most people need to wait until they are 17 before they can take their test for a full driving licence. However, people with disabilities may be able to hold a full licence from the age of 16. This could apply if you receive the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, or the enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payments.

What About the Car?

If possible, we recommend learning in a vehicle which has been modified to meet your own specific needs. Your instructor will be happy to teach you in their own car, but this may not be modified correctly for you or have only fairly basic adaptations.

This is where Ransome Mobility can help. We can fit a wide range of vehicle adaptations for our customers in Norfolk, Suffolk and across East Anglia. These include steering wheel balls, easy release handbrakes, left foot accelerators and many other devices. It’s also advisable to take your test in your own car; your familiarity with it should help offset any nerves on the big day.

What About the Test?

You will still need to take the same test as able-bodied candidates, passing both the theory and practical elements, before you can get behind the wheel on your own. Your instructor will be able to tell if you are ready or not.

The theory element of the test was changed last year to put a greater emphasis on video clips rather than written multiple choice questions (although these will still form part of it). You must pass this before you will be allowed to take your ‘practical’. If you don’t pass the practical test within two years of passing your theory test, then you’ll have to retake the theory part.

For your practical test, all candidates need to drive for around 40 minutes, by following the examiner’s instructions and directions from a sat-nav. You will be expected to complete certain manoeuvres, such as reversing around a corner or a three-point turn, and to answer the road safety questions the examiner asks.

Whichever element you are booking, tell the centre in advance about any special needs you have, or any adaptations you have made to the vehicle. You’ll pass the practical if you make no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called ‘minors’) or no serious or dangerous faults (‘majors’). The theory test pass mark is 86%.

Remember, you may have restrictions on your licence once you have passed. For example, if you have passed in an automatic car you won’t be allowed to drive a manual and separate tests apply to cars, vans and motorbikes.

What if I Have a Problem in Later Life?

If you develop a condition which you believe is affecting your ability to drive, you should tell the DVLA, even if you already have a licence. Your doctor or hospital consultant should be able to advise you on what to do. You can also go to an assessment centre which will see if you are allowed to continue to drive or not.

Vehicle Adaptations from Ransome Mobility

If you would like to know more about the types of vehicle adaptations we can make to the nearly new and used WAVs which we sell to customers across East Anglia, follow this link You can also call us on 01473 727263 or click on this link, fill in the online form and we will get back to you.


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