Driving and disability – what to be aware of

Driving and disability – what to be aware of

Driving and disability – what to be aware of

You are not alone

In 1998, The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that in NSW, 84% of men and 61% of women with a disability aged 17 years and over held a driver’s licence. By 1999, The Roads and Traffic Authority had issued over 1,000 licenses with endorsed conditions requiring vehicle modifications. Is it about that time again that somebody conducted a survey to measure the increase of such impressive stats? Probably so. 

Either way, we can conclude that there are many different kinds of disabilities that can affect our driving, and that we are not alone. It is important to be aware of these and to take proper precautions while practising safe driving procedures.

Some disabilities that effect our driving are listed below. If you suffer from any of these, you must be sure to seek professional advice from your doctor or specialists, and to notify the NSW Roads and Maritime Services

Some disabilities to be aware of when driving

Physical disabilities may place limitations on a person’s functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Other disabilities include impairments which limit other facets of daily living. These include vision and impairments, epilepsy, sleep disorders, blackouts, fainting, stroke, heart conditions, diabetes, psychiatric or neurological disorders and age-related decline.

How to be assessed

If you have a serious disability and apply for a license for the first time, you’ll be asked to provide a satisfactory medical report from your doctor. This is to make sure that NSW Roads and Maritime Services are fully aware of your condition, and so your doctor can recommend specific license restrictions, vehicle modifications or further assessment. Your licence will then be issued with the relevant conditions added. Once you’ve completed all the relevant licenced driver requirements, you’ll need to pass a disability driving test.

We have come a long way regarding people with a disability and their right to drive. There are programs and tuition available for those with congenital disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida to name but a few, with a selection of hand controls, electronic indicators, steering wheel aids, different seating arrangements, and different ways of getting in and out of your car. Although the array of options here are the epitome of sheer brilliance, we must always exercise caution on the road when a disability affects our ability to judge speed or distances, our co-ordination and/or our concentration. 

Other conditions to be aware of

Aside from congenital disabilities, you should be aware of any mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression which can require the use of medications for either a short or long period of time.

If you are taking medication for anything, please ensure that you are not driving if experiencing any side effects such as blurry vision or drowsiness.  

ADHD and what the experts say

ADHD teens and adults are more likely than others to be careless drivers. Studies have found that people with attention deficit disorder are nearly twice as likely as the general population to have had their licence suspended. This doesn’t mean that people with ADHD cannot drive, but significant intervention, education and training is highly recommended. 

For those travelling down this road

There is an abundance of support and information available for people with disabilities about driving awareness for those traveling down this road, so to speak. You need only search the keywords and a world of information will be available to you. A reliable source is the NSW Roads and Maritime Services webpage on driving with a disability.

 

To conclude, awareness should never be underestimated when it comes to your and others’ safety when driving. It is your right to drive safely and comfortably. Let us bear in mind, also, the consideration we should have for other drivers on the road who may be suffering from a medical condition or present with a disability. At some stage in our lives, we too could be in a position that requires us to alter our routine or environment to accommodate our situation.

“Overcome your obstacles by giving power to their solutions”

Best wishes and safe driving, from the Campbelltown Transition Trainees and Team

 

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