RDAC Driving Assessment centre Archives - Driving Mobility

Mayor and Mayoress ceremonially begin construction of new RDAC assessment centre for Midland’s disabled drivers

Alongside many stakeholders and associates, Councillor Stuart Davis and Mrs Sarah Walker have officially begun construction of the new RDAC disabled driving assessment headquarters in Hampton in Arden, part of the national Driving Mobility network.

Alongside many stakeholders and associates, Councillor Stuart Davis and Mrs Sarah Walker have officially begun construction of the new RDAC disabled driving assessment headquarters in Hampton in Arden, part of the national Driving Mobility network.

RDAC is an independent charity with driving assessment centres located centrally within the UK. Its Birmingham headquarters will relocate to these new flagship Solihull premises when construction is completed in early 2020. RDAC is accredited by the nationwide charity Driving Mobility which is regarded as the national voice of assisted driving and independence. Driving Mobility oversees twenty independent organisations, similar to RDAC, 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.

Councillor Stuart Davis, Mayor of Solihull, commented: “I am honoured to perform this ceremony today and are delighted that RDAC have chosen Solihull as their new home. The location is ideal in terms of accessibility and we look forward to seeing how this new centre helps disabled individuals from across the local area gain more independence.”

The ceremony was well attended by representatives from various organisations who are responsible for the design, construction and delivery of Driving Mobility’s latest RDAC centre. Alongside the Mayor and Mayoress, attendees included:

  • Sue Rogers MBE, Manager for the Mobility Centres of England, Accessibility Policy Team, Active Accessible Travel, Department for Transport
  • Edward Trewhella, CEO, Driving Mobility
  • Colin Barnett, CEO, RDAC, and RDAC colleagues
  • John Bridgewater, Commercial Manager, Mossvale, and colleagues
  • Neil Chadwick, Client Relations Manager Charities, CAF Bank
  • Mark Emeny, Director, Emeny Turley Partnership Limited
  • Nicholas Barlow, Managing Director, Packington Estate Enterprises Limited, and colleagues

The new RDAC centre in Solihull will serve people throughout the Midlands and will be operated by a team of qualified ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors), Occupational Therapists and Administrative Staff. This team will be focused on maximising road safety through clinical recommendations regarding appropriate adapted vehicles and specialist driving controls.

Colin Barnett, Chief Executive of RDAC comments: “Today, the team and I are feeling ecstatic that construction of our new headquarters has begun. We would like to thank everyone involved with making this happen. This milestone has taken several years to achieve however we can all look forward to helping more individuals gain driving freedom with additional capacity and extra services. Our relocation from central Birmingham has been the result of HS2 however our new premises will be situated in a more relaxed and calming rural atmosphere. We believe this will add value to the client experience resulting in greater confidence and clarity during the assessment process. Overall this scenic location will be better for everyone.”

Edward Trewhella, CEO, Driving Mobility, concludes: “The latest RDAC centre will be absolutely fantastic especially as it is purpose built for our services. An undercover all-weather area for vehicle assessments, an adjoining closed road for test drives, calming ambience and excellent transport links – it couldn’t be better. The facilities will be such an improvement on RDAC’s previous headquarters and will provide the perfect base to develop more outreach centres across the Midlands. I concur with Colin in thanking all concerned.”

Driving Mobility’s RDAC Salford assessment centre enables Diana to get back behind the wheel

Overcoming her health challenges, Diana, has regained invaluable driving independence through the support of the new RDAC Driving Assessment centre in Salford

Overcoming her health challenges, Diana Whittaker from Sale, has regained invaluable driving independence through the support of the new RDAC Driving Assessment centre in Salford, Manchester.

The charity, Driving Mobility, accredits a UK network of 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. The new, custom-built RDAC centre in Salford serves people from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire with assessments and practical advice for older and disabled drivers, passengers, motorcyclists and mobility scooter or wheelchair users.

Diana lives with a variety of health issues including Cerebral Palsy, which in particular affects her limbs, and Osteoporosis. She has pins in her lower spine, a hip replacement and has experienced cancer twice. Due to health changes and deteriorating mobility, Diana found that she could no longer drive her Motability car with ease or in comfort, which subsequently led to a decrease in driving ability and confidence.

Diana comments: “I can walk short distances but as the strength in my lower limbs and knees has decreased, I find I am now more wheelchair reliant. Unfortunately, over the years, I gradually stopped driving as my vehicle adaptations did not suit my altered health requirements and were not providing suitable assistance. My husband and daughter have been very supportive in driving me around. However, I recently decided that if I could update my vehicle adaptations and return to driving, then it would take some of the pressure away them.”

After researching with her daughter, Diana discovered the organisation Driving Mobility and applied for a referral via Motability. In due course, a driving assessment was arranged, in May 2018, at the newly opened RDAC centre in Salford.

Diana comments: “I was very organised and prepared everything in advance that I could think of. I contacted the DVLA to inform them of changes to my health and upgraded my licence to the photo version. I also made sure when I went for my assessment that I took my driving glasses, pip award and lists of medication. On the day I was very nervous as I hadn’t driven for nearly ten years. However, being welcomed by Sean Barratt, RDAC’s Assessment Team Manager, as well as John Allen, Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and Rebecca King, Occupational Therapist soon set me at ease. The interest they showed in my needs and abilities really reassured me. I received a medical assessment and we discussed my general mobility. They really wanted to understand my true range of movement and strength so that they could help me in the most effective way.”

The Centre staff accompanied Diana for a short driving assessment and then recommended she try a variety of vehicle controls and adaptations that might make driving easier, including an over-ring accelerator and push-brake through to various cushions to enhance seating comfort.

Diana comments: “John and Becky didn’t just assess my driving – they assessed how parts of my body moved, such as my shoulders and arms. They seemed to know exactly what I needed and constantly checked how I was feeling. It was very much a slow and steady pace whilst I familiarized myself with the controls and driving but overall, I felt really safe. I was thrilled to be able to trial so many adaptations, particularly the over-ring accelerator as I had previously been unsuccessful in finding anywhere to try one.”

Diana received two assessments at RDAC followed by six lessons paid for by Motability. She was provided with feedback and reports from Driving Mobility which she used to keep the DVLA and Motability up to date with her progress. The reports also recommended the adaptations and controls that Diana would require on an automatic vehicle to enable her to return to driving effectively.

Diana concludes: “I am delighted to report that I am now back behind the wheel! I am continuing with a few more lessons to build up my road confidence but I am very much enjoying driving my new Nissan QashQai which has been adapted by Motability. I use a Guido Simplex over-ring, an electric handbrake as well as a push brake and four-way hoist – all recommended by the RDAC team.  I really want to emphasise how friendly and encouraging they have been. I haven’t felt any pressure or panic throughout. So few mobility organisations offer these services – you might be able to find someone to demonstrate a push-pull knob but trialling an over-ring is another thing. I can’t thank RDAC enough for the opportunities, feedback and advice I have been given. They have some of the best people I have met – a true dream team!”.