EDIT: I passed my driving test first time on January 25th 2018!!!
Driving for me has always been something I have longed to do but never thought possible because of my physical limitations. But let me tell you…what these car adaptation companies can now do is amazing! I started the information and application process back in mid-2016 and by October that year, I had already tested a vehicle the same as what I’d be getting myself and decided on what adaptations would suit best – as I’m unable to use my legs, the car would have hand controls and many buttons! Once the vehicle was on order, there were 2 or 3 different companies it had to visit before it was completed. Skip forward a few months to May 3rd…the day my van would finally arrive 😀
What happens on the vehicle handover day is the specialist driving instructor will be present as well as the engineers so you have adjustments, go for a drive and then more adjustments if needed. Unfortunately, there were two pretty big problems with my van and it had to be taken back 😦 <- I was sad! My brother has the same disability as me and was getting his own van too, thankfully he didn’t have any major problems and was able to be fitted and have a test drive. Over the past few months, there have been problems with the brake/accelerator control, handbrake button sticking and not allowing it to be driven above 30mph, the tail-lift and my car battery constantly dying! I just tell everyone now i’m jinxed 😀
At the end on June, both my brother and I passed our theory tests, and on the first time too which we couldn’t believe. But it is just a step in the right direction to passing a driving test! I’m finally gaining enough confidence on the road now and each lesson I try to do a little bit more to keep improving. Below are pictures of my van and the controls that I have to use 🙂
This van allows me to drive from my wheelchair by driving into the docking station above, automatically securing the chair into place whilst the lift and rear doors are controlled completely by a remote control – enabling me to be as independent as possible!
The buttons on the panel above control all of the light options, the windows, air con, radio and so on – very confusing and has taken a bit of getting use to! As I’m unable to use a traditional steering wheel or foot pedals, both the steering and brake/accelerator are controlled by just my hands. on the right of where the steering wheel would sit is a 3-pin control – pull back to accelerate and push forward to brake. On the left next to the buttons, is the steering wheel. You still turn it like normal though, it is just flat instead 🙂
Driving is taking me a bit longer but now I am starting to enjoy my lessons, hopefully they fly by as I can’t wait to be fully on the road!
Till next time