Whether you are born with a disability/condition or acquire one later. Here you will find a comprehensive guide to driving with a disability.
It will take the stress out of getting behind the wheel with a disability and gain (or regain) your independence.
This guide to driving with a disability is for:
- People who have a disability and are learning to drive for the first time
- People who have acquired a disability and are getting back to driving
- People who already drive with a disability and want to upgrade their vehicle modifications
There are so many benefits to being able to drive. Apart from the obvious gaining of independence, it also gives you increased opportunity to work and participate in the community.
It gives you freedom to be more impulsive and less planned, reducing the need to coordinate transport with others.
If you are a participant of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) there is a specific process to follow. Please contact us for assistance.
1 – The Licence Rules in Your State
Disability can be such a broad term, and in every situation, it is quite individual. Checking with your State’s licencing rules for driving with a disability can give you added information.
How disability is categorised, what the motoring authority’s process is in relation to medical reports, testing and exemptions varies in each State. Check your State’s licencing rules here.
For drivers with existing conditions on their licence, and want to upgrade their modifications, it is important to check what the exact wording is. This may vary State by State and conditions may be broad or very specific.
The motoring authority in your State will have detailed information on your file regarding your conditions. This will give you a clear idea of whether changing specialised driving equipment will require the need for a new driving test or not.
A Driver Trained Occupational Therapist (DTOT) or Specialised Driving Instructor (SDI) will be able to confirm your requirement for a driving test based on the wording of your licence conditions.
2 – Contacting Specialist OTs and Driving Instructors
Before going to the expense of buying a car, the first thing to do is contact a DTOT or SDI.
Usually a DTOT will be able to refer you to an SDI. However, you may not have contact details for a DTOT to start with. In this situation it is wise to contact your local SDI who will be able to refer you to a DTOT that he/she regularly work with.
Here at Willshire Mobility, we have developed a comprehensive list of Specialised Driving Instructors. Feel free to contact us if you aren’t able to locate a nearby SDI. If we can help, we’ll happily do so.
3 – Getting Assessed
Once you’re in touch with a DTOT, you will have a phone conversation. This will give the DTOT more information on your driving goals, level of disability and to determine if they are the right DTOT for you.
You will then work out an opportunity to get assessed medically and/or cognitively (if applicable). This is to assess your capability to drive and to determine your body’s physical strengths and weaknesses with various possible driving equipment.
The DTOT will also discuss with you some options available to consider. These options can be viewed through online pictures and videos, brochures and the use of our High Level Assessment Vehicle.
After this initial assessment, the DTOT will organise with you to test the equipment options. This involves coordinating a day(s) and time that the SDI, DTOT and yourself can be available.
Note that if you have never driven before, at a minimum you will need to get your Learner’s Permit. This will enable you to test drive the equipment. You may also need doctor’s clearance to be able to try out the equipment if you are still in hospital or a health facility.
4 – Test Driving the Equipment
Trying out a variety of equipment options is the best way to practically determine the best type of equipment for your current capabilities and for possible changes in the future. This is where being in touch with a DTOT is very useful. If you have never driven before, they will be able to educate you on the variety of equipment options available.
If you already drive with specialised driving equipment, you may not know about changes in equipment options. You may be set in your thinking to continue with the same equipment/suppliers.
The DTOT and SDI can show you other options that can be more ergonomic and/or technologically advanced to benefit your needs longer term. Our website has a huge range of driving equipment and accessories to look at. The product videos give you a good overview of each product’s main features.
5 – The DTOT Report
Once the appropriate equipment has been finalised, and this can take a few trials, the DTOT will obtain quotes from the relevant suppliers to attach to their report. In some cases more than one quote is required. For high level modifications it may not be possible to obtain multiple quotes as the solution may be very customised. This is particularly important for NDIS participants.
If the equipment is to be fitted to an existing car or you intend to buy a used car. It’s important to note the NDIS requirements when modifying a used car.
If you are privately funding the purchase, the process can be much quicker with less processes to navigate.
6 – Driving Lessons and Doing the Driving Test
When you need a revised driving test, you may need to have driving lessons and then pass the driving test. This must be done before you can order and fit the new equipment to your vehicle. This is relevant for new drivers or existing drivers who want to upgrade their equipment which will impact on their licence conditions.
For NDIS and other funding bodies, the cost of these lessons may be covered.
7 – Ordering your Modifications
Once the funds are approved, the process of getting your car modified can begin. You may have to coordinate the purchase of your new/used car so that it is available when the equipment is ready to be installed.
Willshire Mobility can help you navigate the Communication between the car dealer, and the funding body. If the purchase was made by a funding body your DTOT will still be involved through this process. Depending on the complexity of modifications required, it may take some weeks to have the vehicle modified.
Once you have navigated all these steps, it’s now time to drive and be free!