Driving – A Blog Post by Disability Hacker

Like most people reaching 17 years I was eager to learn to drive. I wanted to go where they want to go, Cerebral Palsy (CP) has never changed my aspirations. My dad had been trying to prepare me to learn to drive long before the thought of driving was in my head, he encouraged me to play computer games (not many parents do that! ) to make sure my reactions were good.

It is obvious, that someone who only has no reliable control over their left side cannot drive a ’normal’ car. It had to be ‘hacked’. This kind of hacking has to be done by working with professionals. So I went to a driving assessment centre and they checked what parts of my body responded normally and what parts didn’t and then advised on how a car could be adapted in such a way that my disability would have no affect on my driving.

So I learnt to drive with an automatic car so that the clutch and gear pedal would not be an issue for my left leg and then they showed me how I could steer my car with one hand, using a steering ball which had buttons on for the indicators, horn, lights etc.

Learning to drive brought me many tears and doubts. Every time I made a mistake, it was too easy for me to blame it on my disability rather than accepting it as a normal ‘learners’ mistake. Some people even told me I was crazy for trying.

Fortunately my friends and family cheered me on and went out with me. It also helped having a friend with CP learning at the same time. All was well and (against the norm) I passed my test first time and that is getting on for twenty years ago now.

I was doing a bit of research to see how I could advise young people with disabilities today how to go about investigating how to learn to drive.

I discovered that the “Get Going Live”event that takes place on Saturday 13 July at the Donington Park may be a great place to start.. I asked them if they would be happy to write a small piece for ‘Disability Hacker’, they kindly agreed.

Get Going Live! 2013 puts young and newly disabled in the driving seat

Whether moving away from home to college, university or for work being able to drive is often vital to a young disabled person’s independence. Newly disabled people often lack confidence to get back behind the wheel. Get Going Live! is designed to help both.

It’s an exciting one-day driving event, jointly organised by Disabled Motoring (UK) and Mobility Choice, the charity behind the annual Mobility Roadshow, it has a very clear mission: to help young and newly disabled people become independently mobile and plan for their first adapted car.

Young people with disabilities can gain a driving licence at 16, a year ahead of those who are not disabled. For many young people learning to drive is mixed with anticipation, excitement and apprehension. Then there is the responsibility of choosing the right vehicle; not only affordability, but the right model for handling and safety.

If you have a disability it is not always easy to find answers to all your questions. Will I be able to drive? What kind of assistance will I need? What help is out there? Will my car need to be adapted? Where do I start? And for newly disabled people returning to driving following rehabilitation these questions can feel overwhelming.

At Get Going Live! you will gain expert advice in a friendly no-pressure environment from organisations with a wealth of knowledge – from choosing an instructor with experience teaching disabled motorists, to finding out about the adaptation options and vehicles that are right for you.

At the Autoadapt Driver Test Station you will see how quickly you are able to apply force and react to changing road conditions and potential hazards. This helps to determine which adaptations you will need to drive safely and comfortably. It is also a great opportunity to try out the ‘theory’ of driving before putting some of it into practice in your test drive.

Now in its third year Get Going Live! events have been highly praised by both parents and young drivers alike. Entry and all activities are free.

Registration is now open at www.getgoinglive.co.uk or call 01344 750 400/01508 489 449.

There are over 35 adapted vehicles available to test-drive on the day. Participants must be 14 and over.

To view more of Disability Hackers’ excellent articles check out: http://www.disabilityhacker.com/

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