Who can drive?
Having a disability does not necessarily mean you cannot drive there are many modifications that can be made to help adapt a car for your needs.
Mobility Centres have teams of occupational therapists and driving instructors with specialist knowledge to help with physical or additional needs that cause challenges with learning to drive. Assessments are tailored to individual need but typically includes visual screening and cognitive assessments before progressing to an in-car assessment. Some centres also help with the theory and hazard perception test. A local centre will be able to provide more advice and information.
The Drivers and Vehicles Licence Agency (DVLA) control who and what can go on the road. This is to make sure we all can be safe on the roads. They issue permission for people to drive different types of vehicles (called driving licences), and permission for vehicles to use public roads (also called vehicle registration certificates and road tax).
You will need to tell DVLA if you have a disability or if your disability has worsened since you first had your licence. If you have a query about whether your health condition will affect your ability to drive, you can contact DVLA Drivers Medical Enquiries. Once you have provided the DVLA with information about your condition, they will be able to assess whether or not you comply with the medical standards of fitness to drive and provide you with information of any modifications you need to make to your vehicle.
You typically need to be seventeen before you can hold a licence to drive a car. However, if you received the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), you can hold a licence from the age of 16. Other types of vehicles have different age restrictions – you can check if you’re old enough or have the right kind of licence for different types.
Provisional driving licence
A provisional driving licence is the first step to getting a driving licence in learning to drive. There are different rules depending on your age and the type of vehicle. Check what vehicles you can drive and when before you start to learn.
This then allows you to be able to take driving lessons and practice driving a car. You must always have an adult with you that has been driving on the road for three or more years when driving a car.
Full driving licence
You will only be able to change your provision licence to a full driving licence once you have passed your driving tests. When you book your driving test you should say if you have a disability or health condition. You will still have the drive to the same standard to pass, but the examiner can adjust for your situation. If your insurance covers you without supervision, then you can start driving as soon as you pass your practical driving test.
Pass Plus is a practical training course that takes at least 6 hours and is for drivers to improve their skills and drive more safely.
It can be taken at any time although it should be most useful to new drivers in the year after passing their test.
Where driving is not an option
A few people will find their disability does mean they are unable to drive. There are other transport options available. For example, you may be able to get adaptive bikes to help you get to work through the Cycle to Work scheme. Or you may be eligible for a concessionary bus pass. Independent travel training gives people with SEND the confidence to travel safely on trains or buses.
If you regularly get a lift from someone it is important to stay safe. The NDTi explain when you may need to consider the person giving you a lift having a DBS check. And also, some questions to ask to help you review how your lift sharing is working.