Driving is an essential part of independence and social interaction and in rural areas in particular is an essential support to the rural lifestyle. Even in urban areas, as personal mobility declines with age, the importance of driving often increases.
Drivers are often concerned about coping with the demands of driving as they get older and sometimes experience a loss of confidence in their abilities. While there is a point in many peoples lives where the decision to stop driving is the appropriate one, this may not be the case and drivers and their families might be well advised to seek professional assistance before coming to such a major life decision. The Disabled Drivers Association offer a driving assessment service, which seeks to assist older drivers, their families or medical practitioners make informed decisions about continuing to drive. An assessment can serve to put the minds of others at ease or suggest ways that the driving task can be made a more comfortable experience for the older driver.
Confidence is an integral part of competent driving and many drivers may find their driving years extended by improving their driving skills to meet the demands of today’s modern infrastructure. An older person may choose to engage in a course of driving lessons to refresh their skills and knowledge as more complex road systems extend around the country.
This section outlines the legal requirements for becoming a fully licensed driver with notes on the Driver Theory Test, Learner Permit, Eyesight Reports, Medical Reports, and the Driving Test as they may apply to a prospective driver with a disability. The situation for full licence holders who acquire a disability is outlined as are the car insurance requirements
Driver Theory Test
The Driver Theory Test was introduced on 25 April 2001. It applies to all persons making application for a first learner permit in any particular vehicle category on or after that date.
Knowledge of topics such as the rules of the road, risk perception, hazard awareness, and good driving behaviour will be tested. The test is IT based and is in a user-friendly format.
A Theory Test Certificate must be presented to the persons Motor Taxation Office in association with a learner permit application within two years of the date of issue i.e. date of passing the test.
Drivers with a disability learning to drive are tested to the same standard as mainstream drivers, but the test is conducted by a testing supervisor familiar with the techniques of disabled driving and adaptations appropriate to the driver abilities. On completing the test successfully in an adapted vehicle, a client’s driving licence is granted for driving with the car adaptation used during the test or an equivalent adaptation. It is important when applying for the test to clearly indicate that the applicant is a driver with a disability requiring adaptations to the vehicle, as the form allows. Failure to do so may result in a test being scheduled for someone other than a test supervisor and the test will be unable to proceed. Because there are a limited number of test supervisor nationally there may be a delay in obtaining a date for the test.
Full Licence Holders
For anyone returning / continuing to drive having acquired a disability/illness one must complete a medical report form (D. 501) on renewing their licence. They may voluntarily choose to have their licence renewed with the medical report prior to their current licence expiring, if the coding of the licence will change.