The Ultimate Guide to driving with a disability 2022

Side view of a woman sitting in a car.

The purpose of this guide is to let you know that almost everyone can drive. Perhaps the toughest obstacle to overcome is knowing that what you believe to be impossible, is in fact possible.

Being able to drive your own car is empowering and provides you with the independence to go where you want to go, whenever you feel like it. Be it going on a road trip or commuting to and from work.

This guide is for you who:

  • Are thinking about getting a driver’s licence.
  • Want to drive again after being diagnosed with a medical condition or a disability.
  • Are currently driving an adapted car but are curious about new solutions.
  • Believe that you are unable to drive because of your disability.

Before we start

As with almost everything, knowledge is key. Here are ten questions worth extra attention. Don't buy anything before you have the answer to these questions.  

10 questions to consider before you start:

  1. How does the legislation work in your country? Who is allowed to drive and what adaptations are allowed? (Step 1: Educate yourself)
  2. Will you need to redo a driver's test after your car has been adapted or if you update your adaptations? (Step 1: Educate yourself)
  3. Is there any form of financing assistance available? (Step 1: Educate yourself)
  4. What prevents you from driving today? (Step 2: Assessment)
  5. What adaptations would you need to be able to drive? (Step 2: Assessment)
  6. What about the future? Is your disability progressive? Will you be needing more assistance in the future? (Step 2: Assessment)
  7. Make sure you try more than one solution or product, go with what feels best for you. (Step 3: Try before you buy)
  8. What adaptations do you need to bring along any mobility device, such as a wheelchair or mobility scooter? (Step 3: Try before you buy)
  9. Are your adaptations future-proof? Can they be moved along to your next car? (Step 3: Try before you buy)
  10. What vehicle would suit your needs best? Can you use your existing vehicle, or do you need a new one? (Step 3: Try before you buy)

A man studying with a book and a computer.

Educate yourself!

As we stated above, knowledge is key. But nothing is the same all over the world, which makes it hard to provide you with specific advice on these matters. However, there is a group of people that always will be interested in helping you and those are the Vehicle Adaptation Professionals.

It might sound cynical, but since they have a financial interest in helping you, it also makes them a great resource and partner in your goal of becoming an independent driver.  

The reality is that they do this daily and have amassed a wealth of knowledge they are more than willing to share with you. They know who you need to contact, be it Road Authorities, Assessment Centres, Funding Institutions or Driving Schools. 

If you don’t know where to find a Vehicle Adaptation Professional, here is a good place to start.

Before you go further, you should know the following:

  • Is it legal for you to drive with an adapted vehicle?
  • What government agencies do you need to contact?
  • What your options are for financial aid?
  • Who will perform your assessment?
  • Where to obtain a permit for handicap parking?

A wheelchair user in an assessment session with an Occupational Therapist.

Assessing your abilities

Getting your driving abilities assessed can be done by various professionals. Either by your standard Occupational Therapist or one that specialises in disabled drivers. In some parts of the world, specialised Assessment Centres, or the Vehicle Adaptation Professional conduct your assessment.

Regardless of who performs your assessment, this step is critical in the process, as it will gauge your fitness to drive and give you a clear indication of what sort of modifications you need to be able to drive.

Before you go further, you should know the following:

  • What will enable you to drive?
  • If your disability is progressive, will these adaptations work for you tomorrow?
  • What vehicle would best suit your needs and the products you need?

Try before you buy

A woman talking to her vehicle adaptation professional. If you are lucky, you might even be able to try a vehicle with the adaptations at the same place where you got your assessment. Another good place to try out a solution before you buy is at your local Vehicle Adaptation Professional. Most of them have at least some sort of demo equipment available for you to try.

If you are curious about what solutions are most used by disabled drivers, look at these articles:


Before you go further, you should know the following:

  • What solution feels best for you?
  • What about your wheelchair? Do you need additional adaptations to facilitate the loading and unloading of a wheelchair, mobility scooter or powered wheelchair?
  • Can the adaptations you need be moved along to your next car? Maybe not a dealbreaker but certainly something to consider financially. 
  • If you already own a car, can these products be installed in your current vehicle?

A happy driver

Getting a Driver’s license

Once you know what you need to physically be able to drive it’s time to learn how to drive. If you haven’t already reached out to a Driving School, now is the time. Again, your Adaptation Professional will most likely have one or more driving instructors for you to contact.  

Before you go further, you should know the following:

  • Will your Driving School provide a car for you, or do you need to use your own?

A vehicle adaptation technician working on a car seat.

Adapting your car  

Now that you know what adaptations you need for your car it’s time to put your Vehicle Adaptation Professionals to work in what they do best. Adapting a car can take between one day to several months depending on the scope of the adaptation.

Expect to be called back to the workshop for some fitting sessions. This helps your technician fine-tune everything to your abilities and needs.


Two men inspecting a race car.

Road Authorities

Before you can take your car home, you might have to submit it to a final inspection by the local Road Authorities. In some countries, your Vehicle Adaptation Professional will have already done this and filed all the necessary paperwork for you. In other countries, it might be something you need to do yourself.

Talk to your Vehicle Adaptation Professional and they will assist you.


Service intervals

A hand holding a smartphone showing a calendar app.The adaptations enable you to drive your car. That's why it's important to take good care of them. Depending on what type of adaptations you have the service intervals will be anything from a few months to several years. In between, it always helps if you keep your equipment as clean as possible. 

If you want to be proactive, book your next service appointment before you drive your car home for the first time. That way you don’t have to rely on yourself to remember to do it later.


Ok bye!

We hope that this guide has provided you with the knowledge you need to start your journey to become an independent driver.

Thank you for reading. 

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