Learning to drive is an exciting but often daunting experience for many. The desired freedom comes with great responsibility. Now imagine doing it with limited mobility.
Tegan, a PBF Injury Prevention Road Presenter, recently obtained her learners permit and purchased her first car. A C5 incomplete quadriplegic, Tegan is an incredibly motivated and strong individual.
PBF sat down with Tegan last week to ask a few questions about the process of getting her driver’s licence, from the point of view of a person with a spinal cord injury.
Five Step Process:
- Get assessed on your range of movement by your OT (Occupational Therapist)
- Obtain a medical certificate from your doctor
- Sit your written test to earn your Learners Permit
- Find a driving instructor who specialises in driving using hand controls. There are currently only two in Brisbane, so you need to book a couple of weeks in advance.
- Sit your driving test. In Qld you can hold your Learners Permit for a max of 3 years.
We asked Tegan what were the main tips she could pass on to make this process as smooth as possible.
Firstly, good communication is essential. Let your instructor know what is going on inside your head – there is no point freaking out about something yet looking calm. The entire process was a lot quicker than expected however I encountered a few hurdles. Apart from muscles hurting that I didn’t expect, transitioning from my wheelchair to driver’s seat is very different. I am stronger on my right side so it has taken awhile to get used to transferring from the opposite side. I was very confident driving with the instructor in his car, but when I purchased my own car I had a bit of trouble adjusting. Actually I went through a period of hating my own car until I got used to it and now I love it.
Tegan purchased a fantastic VW Golf Mark 5 and couldn’t be happier. The Qld Government supplied her with $4500 towards the purchase through VOSE funding. A scheme to encourage independence. Modifications to the car included hand controls (fitted for an additional $2500 upwards) and a combination of cushions, bolsters and a chest strap to help with getting the seating correct. The other major requirement is that Tegan will require a folding wheelchair and a hoist on the roof for the wheelchair to go into.
PBF Australia wish Tegan all the best in her journey to learn to drive. We encourage all of those with a desire to drive to call their doctor and get the process started.
“Don’t be scared to learn to drive. Don’t let fear hold you back. Just give it a go”. Tegan Crick.