East Anglian DriveAbility (EAD), one of Driving Mobility’s UK assessment centres, has enabled new driving possibilities for James Kipling from Kings Lynn, after a motorbike accident resulted in traumatic injuries to his spine.
Driving Mobility accredits twenty independent organisations which offer professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability. EAD is part of this network with centres in Thetford and Colchester. In addition to driving assessments, its Occupational Therapists and Driving Advisors provide several additional services including guidance regarding specialist paediatric car seats and mobility scooters.
Following James’ motorbike accident two years ago, metal implants were inserted into his back to support his damaged spine. Now a wheelchair user and unable to walk, James began to investigate how he could learn to drive a vehicle for the first time. His GP advised that Driving Mobility provides specialist driving assessments with professional advice regarding suitable adaptations. Following a self-referral, James visited his local centre, EAD, in 2018.
James, age 24, comments: “I felt quite nervous when I arrived at EAD but I was very impressed from the start. The Centre staff ran through my medical records and assessed my physical and cognitive abilities and then asked me to try a Static Assessment Rig. This is a driving simulator that can be fitted with different adaptations to match individual requirements. I was able to operate the accelerator and brake from the steering wheel, which gave me a good idea of how I could drive a car whist in a safe, controlled environment.”
EAD’s Static Assessment Rig provides information on reaction speeds, vision, steering ability and braking strength. As James successfully completed this part of the assessment, EAD felt confident he was ready to proceed to driving a dual-controlled vehicle accompanied by a Centre Driving Advisor.
James comments: “The Driving Assessment was amazing! The same adaptations were fitted to the vehicle and because I had already practised with them on the driving simulator, I picked it up straight away. The whole experience was made straightforward and easy for me.”
Following his assessment, Driving Mobility provided James with a comprehensive written report which he took to his GP for medical approval to drive. The DVLA were updated and James subsequently passed his theory test. He is now applying for a Motability vehicle which will be fitted with the recommended driving controls and is looking forward to applying for his driving test.
James concludes: “I would prefer to use my own adapted car for driving lessons, so that I get plenty of practice with the adaptations best suited to me. I already have a transfer board to assist me with getting from my wheelchair into a car and I plan to use the centre ring accelerator and a side handbrake that I trialled at EAD. I’m really feeling confident and positive about future driving and I’m very grateful to the EAD team for helping me get to this point.”