Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Motoring after an amputation

This guide outlines some of the key things for people who have had an amputation to consider when choosing or adapting a car. It also directs you to the sections of our website that have the detailed information you'll need. The information here comes from talking to people who have had amputations, as well as other experts. 

You can also download this as a complete guide: Motoring after an amputation (PDF). Or you can receive printed publications by post (UK only).

Acknowledgements: This guide was produced by Rica with funding from Motability and in partnership with the Forum of Mobility Centres, the Limbless Association and BLESMA.

Introduction

There are a number of things to consider about how your amputation may affect your driving: 

  • What are the rules about driving with a disability?  
  • Which useful features on standard cars can make a difference?
  • Are there specialist products or techniques that will help? 
  • How can I find sources of funding and expert advice? 

You may well be able to continue driving an unadapted car, particularly if it has automatic transmission and power steering. However, if your amputation means you have difficulty driving, consider the adaptations available for primary and secondary car controls. In addition, it's well worth getting individual advice from a Mobility Centre.

More detailed information on choosing and using a car can be found in the following guides. We note below which parts are of specific interest to someone who will be driving after an amputation.

Choosing a car

This guide covers a range of things to think about if you have a disability, details of features that may help you and ways of adapting a car to suit you. In particular, you should bear in mind these factors:

  • automatic transmission - a must for many disabled drivers, it makes a car easier to drive and cheaper to convert
  • power-assisted steering - strongly recommended after upper-limb amputation
  • space for your artificial limb in the footwell

Car controls

There is a range of adaptations that make motoring easier for drivers who have had amputations. See this guide for in-depth information on types of adaptations and how to get them. For advice on which controls may be particularly useful depending on the type of amputation, we recommend that you first read our page on Car controls to help people with amputations.

Getting into and out of a car

Sometimes, just the right technique is all you need. The guide also covers helpful equipment and details of various lifting systems if you need more help:

  • hoists that lift and lower you on to a car seat
  • lifting seats that swing out and into the car, lowering and locking into a position to suit you

Getting a wheelchair into a car

A run-down of equipment to help you stow or carry a wheelchair:

  • hoists that lift a manual or powered chair into a vehicle
  • rooftop hoists that lift a manual chair up and on to the roof of a car
  • racks that carry a wheelchair on the back of a car
  • trailers and ramps

Getting a driver's licence after an amputation

If you are learning to drive or returning to driving after an amputation, you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). They will assess your fitness to drive and may ask you to have a medical examination or a driving assessment. You may:

  • be given a full licence
  • be given a temporary licence, valid for one, two or three years
  • be given a licence to drive an automatic or a car with specialist controls (this will be coded on your licence)
  • in extreme cases, be refused a licence

You can appeal if you do not agree with the DVLA's decision.

For more information on getting a driving licence, pick up the leaflet 'What you need to know about driving licences (D100)' from a post office or get it online from www.gov.uk/browse/driving.

You must tell your insurance company about your disability and any adaptations that you use, as well as any limitations on your driving licence.

You can also download this as a complete guide: Motoring after an amputation (PDF). Or you can receive printed publications by post (UK only).

Last updated: November 2012


Main page: Motoring with particular disabilities