This article is disabled blogger Shona Louise’s second in a series where she writes on her experience of joining the Motability Scheme. Here, Shona talks about her driving assessment and how it’s helped her to pick the best vehicle for her needs.
It’s now been around 4 months since I first got the ball rolling with joining the Motability Scheme, and since I introduced myself and my journey to you! I’m documenting my journey of getting a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) and learning to drive, and if you read my first post you’ll know how excited I was about taking these first steps towards more independence. Two incredibly exciting things have happened over the past 2 months and I’ve been so eager to share it all as I get closer and closer towards being on the road. I’ve recently started using public transport again and it’s made me more determined than ever before to learn drive and leave the days of buses and taxis behind!
Click here if you’d like to read Shona’s first article on learning about the Scheme
Since I’ve never driven a car before one of the first things I had to do was have a driving assessment to work out what driving adaptations I’d need. Just from knowing my own body and abilities I knew that driving with pedals would not be sustainable for me, so we organised for me to give hand controls a go with my local driving assessment centre, Herts Ability in Welwyn Garden City. After a few questions and a cognitive assessment soon enough I was behind the wheel of a car for the first time! I tried an automatic car with push/pull controls and I have to say I did not want to stop driving, I loved it!
The driving portion of my assessment lasted for around 50 minutes and we mostly focused on steering, roundabouts and accelerating and braking to get an idea of how easy I would find the controls. Thankfully other than needing a slightly larger steering wheel ball, everything was perfect. I really enjoyed driving and was over the moon that they were so confident in my ability that they let me drive back to the assessment centre on some trickier roads, it left me feeling so eager to actually start learning! The whole assessment was really relaxed and it gave me the confidence boost I needed as I look ahead to actually learning to drive.
Choosing a vehicle
With my driving controls sorted it was time to choose a vehicle! I’m a powered wheelchair user with the ability to transfer and as much as I love my powered wheelchair I knew that if I could, I didn’t want to drive from it. This meant an internal transfer vehicle would be ideal for me, allowing me to independently access the vehicle, secure my wheelchair and then transfer to the drivers’ seat. The Motability Scheme and Sirus Automotive, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle specialists, brought a Volkswagen Caddy with an internal transfer to my home for me to try out, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I was so worried that being a wheelchair user meant that my first car would be massive, but the VW Caddy is not intimidating at all and I feel really confident about driving it. I was given so much information about the car and the process, clearing up any questions I had, and I was really happy with how much time they took with me during the process. At the end of the day, choosing a vehicle is a big deal!
And now, I just need to wait! I’m really looking forward to following along the process and having the WAV be tailored for me, to make driving as easy as possible. In the meantime, I’m going to begin learning everything for my theory test as you can never start too early and it would be good to get that all sorted and out of the way! Hopefully by the time I update you all next I’ll have my WAV and I’ll be starting actual driving lessons, the excitement really has set in now.
If you’d like to read more from Shona then visit her blog http://www.shonalouise.com/