September 07, 2018 at 8:45 PM

No matter if you have a hearing difficulty, physical disability or a learning difficulty, you will still take the standard practical driving test that is used to assess non-disabled drivers.

That means you will be tested on your ability to drive safely in different road and traffic conditions, and that you know the Highway Code and can demonstrate this through your driving ability.

One advantage that you might be entitled to is applying for your driving license at 16 years old. Although the legal age for starting to drive is 17, if you receive the enhanced rate of the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you can drive a year earlier. You can also take the theory test at 16 too.

BOOKING YOUR PRACTICAL TEST

When you book your test, you will need to declare that you have special requirements. This is so DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can make reasonable adjustments for your test.

You can book your test online and tick all the options that apply to your disability. Alternatively, you can call 0300 200 1122 if you would prefer to speak to someone, or send an email to customerservices@dvsa.gov.uk.

Most test centres have been made accessible to people with disabilities - for example, disabled parking spaces have been reserved and ramps have been installed. However, not all centres have been adapted.

You will be told when you book your test if the centre you've chosen is accessible. If it isn't (or you'd prefer it), the examiner will meet you in your vehicle, rather than in the waiting room as normal.

As for your vehicle, you're able to take the test in your own wheelchair accessible vehicle or specially adapted car as long as it meets the government requirements. Your vehicle must:

  • Be taxed
  • Be insured for a driving test
  • Be roadworthy and have a current MOT (if it's over three years old)
  • Have no warning lights showing
  • Have no tyre damage and the legal tread depth on each tyre - you can't have a space-saver tyre fitted
  • Be smoke-free - no smoking just before or during the test
  • Be able to reach at least 62mph and have a mph speedometer
  • Have four wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500kg (you can find this in the vehicle's handbook)

The vehicle must have:

  • An extra interior rear-view mirror for the examiner
  • L plates ('L' or 'D' plates in Wales) on the front and rear
  • A passenger seatbelt for the examiner and a proper passenger head restraint (not a slip-on type)

HOW WILL THE TEST BE DIFFERENT?

As mentioned above, if you declare that you have special requirements when booking your practical driving test, reasonable adjustments can be made depending on your disability.

Timing

Typically, you will be given extra time to take the test - this doesn't mean that you will be driving for a longer time or be asked to perform any additional tasks. Indeed, extra time is for the examiner to complete the additional paperwork and it also enables them to ensure that you've properly understood the instruction, which may take more time.

Depending on your disability, and any possible adaptations made to the vehicle, you may need more time to complete the manoeuvre given to you.

The additional time allocation would also allow you to take a break during the test if fatigue is an issue.

Hearing Impairment Or Deaf Without Speech

Before you take your test, the examiner will agree with you how they should give instructions about the route and the manoeuvre. Your driving instructor can help here because they'll be used to giving you instructions from your lessons together.

A British Sign Language (BSL) signer can be in the car with you to translate what the examiner is saying - the signer must be at least 16 years old and could be your driving instructor.

Finally, you could have things written down or choose to lip read. However you wish to communicate, you will be afforded extra time so that the examiner can use your preferred method to clearly communicate their instructions.

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Physical Disability

In order for you to drive, you might need to use a specially adapted car. This is allowed as long as the vehicle still meets the government requirements (outlined above) to be used on a test. 

You will be given extra time for your examiner to discuss the car's adaptations with you before the test starts. You can also do the eyesight portion of the test and vehicle safety questions from inside the car.

Reading Difficulties Or Learning Disability

If you suffer from a learning disability, like dyslexia or dyspraxia, extra time and special measures can be arranged. For example, the examiner will need to test your eyesight by getting you to read the number plate of another vehicle - if you have reading difficulties, you will be able to write the details of the plate on a piece of paper rather than having to read it out loud.

During the independent driving part of the test, you will need to either follow directions from a sat nav or follow traffic signs. The examiner might ask which of these you would prefer to do.

They can also help you remember where you're supposed to be heading; or help with extra information if you're following directions from a sat nav that you find unclear.

If you're unsure where you're going, you can ask the examiner for confirmation. Remember, it doesn't matter if you go the wrong way, unless you make a fault while doing it.

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AFTER THE TEST

When you've finished the test, the examiner will tell you whether you have passed or failed and give you the same DL25 form as non-disabled drivers, which lists any faults you made. If you pass, you will also receive a pass certificate and the option to be automatically sent the full driving licence.

If you're looking to book your driving test with special requirements, good luck and we hope you pass. Once you get your full driving license, we have a range of wheelchair accessible vehicles as well as knowledge of the most popular adaptations.


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