Driving with a disability: everything you need to know

Driving and disability

We at Carwise Group believe in defining people by the things they can do, not the things they can’t. But if you have physical or mobility difficulties, it’s important to know the facts when it comes to driving, so you can make sure you're doing everything you need to be, and receiving all the help and support you’re entitled to.

Can I still drive?

The first thing you should know is that mobility issues don't mean you can't drive – there are lots of modifications that can be made to cars to adapt them to people’s needs. The pedals, steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake and more can all be altered so they are easier to use. For example, if you struggle to operate foot pedals, you can be provided with hand controls instead.

However, you need to tell the DVLA if you have, or develop, a medical or physical issue that could affect your driving. There's a list of notifiable conditions at www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving. These don’t just include mobility difficulties but medical conditions like diabetes, epilepsy or glaucoma, as well as some mental health conditions and learning disabilities.

If you’re already a driver, you need to tell the DVLA straightaway if this happens. They might ask you to make some modifications to your car, or you may not be able to drive for a while.

If you’re a new driver, applying for a provisional licence, you should declare all your medical conditions on the application form. Driving mobility assessment centres can provide advice on whether you’d meet the medical standards for driving and what modifications might be helpful to you, and some instructors have cars with modifications for people with health issues to learn to drive in. Everyone takes the same theory and practical test, but you will be able to take the practical test in an automatic or modified car if necessary; you will then only have a licence to drive an automatic, or a car with those same modifications.

A little known fact is that you usually need to be 17 before you can drive, but if you receive the Personal Independence Payment and get the higher of the two mobility allowances, you can drive when you’re 16.

Blue Badges

If you have a health condition that affects your mobility, you can apply for a Blue Badge, which entitles you to certain parking privileges. You can park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours; for free and for an unlimited amount of time in on-street pay-and-display areas; and in on-street disabled parking spaces.

Driving abroad

Generally, if you can drive in the UK, you should be fine to drive abroad, although it’s always important to research the country you’re visiting beforehand, and ensure you’re properly covered by your insurance too.

Car tax

You can apply to be exempt from car tax if you receive the Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance and get the higher of the two mobility allowances. If you receive the personal independence payment and get the lower of the two mobility allowances, you can get a 50 per cent reduction in your car tax.

The car must be registered in your name or your nominated driver’s name, and used only for your needs, not by your nominated driver for their personal use.

Car insurance

You must tell your insurer about any health conditions you have. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, it’s illegal for them to refuse disabled drivers cover or charge them more because of this.

When you buy a second-hand or used car from Carwise Group, you can enjoy the complete peace of mind that comes from choosing a reputable used car dealer. And we're more than happy to advise on any aspect of motoring that we can help with, from health conditions to the Highway Code.

We have an ever-changing range of used cars for sale at our dealerships in Harlow and Maidstone – call us today to book a test drive.