Ella Dove, 30 from East London, has achieved motoring independence once again after experiencing a leg amputation due to a freak running accident – made possible by Driving Mobility.
Ella qualified to drive a manual car when she was 18 and drove for a few years. However, she moved to London in 2014 and decided not to take her car as it was easier to use public transport in the capital. Ella’s car remained at her parent’s house. In 2016 Ella unfortunately experienced a freak accident whilst running which involved a trip and fall. She fractured and dislocated her knee so badly the circulation to her foot was severed which finally resulted in a right leg amputation below the knee. Ella did not drive for six years until she was guided back to adapted motoring by Driving Mobility.
As Ella lives in Stratford, she decided to contact the Driving Mobility centre nearest to her at Harlow (a satellite centre for Herts Ability in Welwyn Garden City). This centre is one of 20 Driving Mobility centres across England and Wales which are supported by 70 outreach facilities. They provide clinically led, driving and mobility assessments so individuals can gain or maintain personal independence through appropriate adapted vehicles, mobility scooters, wheelchair or accessible transport. Driving Mobility centres are operated by independent charities or NHS departments – all accredited by the national charity Driving Mobility. Service users can self-refer or are signposted from the DVLA, Motability, Police and the NHS.
As Ella’s physical abilities had changed, her driving licence was put on hold by the DVLA. Hence, she was advised to seek a professional driving assessment so that official recommendations could be gathered and an appropriate solution to independence could be concluded.
Ella spoke to an advisor representing Driving Mobility who initially assessed her needs and organised an appointment with their team at Welwyn Garden City. Ella attended the centre for a driving assessment in one of their automatic vehicles. Ella explains: “I was initially quite nervous, but I really enjoyed the experience and definitely felt myself progressing in confidence and ability as the session went on. The private Driving Mobility test drive course in Harlow is a fantastic idea and a great way to ease back into driving again. I had not been behind the wheel for six years so this reassured me… especially when driving for the first time just using my left foot for acceleration and braking.”
Ella adds: “The fact that the Driving Mobility team were so supportive massively helped me. I wouldn’t describe myself as a confident driver to start with; I’ve always been quite cautious behind the wheel, so I did feel myself gripping the wheel quite tightly and moving like a snail to start with during the assessment. However, I discovered that my road sense was still there, which was comforting, and driving didn’t feel as alien as I thought it would. By the end of the assessment in the automatic car, I was really enjoying myself and left feeling very proud – it was an enormous milestone for me!”
Following her driving assessment, Driving Mobility concluded Ella was safe and competent to drive an automatic car. This was amazing news to Ella and was a significant result for her confidence and independence. She received her driving licence back from the DVLA with the all-clear to drive a non-manual car with adapted pedals. In conclusion, she offers this advice: “I’d say have courage. Confidence for me is the biggest barrier. So, it was more a psychological push to get myself back behind the wheel than a logistical one. Getting used to an automatic, especially with specialist pedals and using my left foot for everything hasn’t been easy, but the more I do it, the more confident I become. So, go for it! Don’t let fear hold you back!”