Driving experiences of disabled drivers

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Abstract

Objective

To study the influence of non-standard controls on return to driving after disability, including prevalence of accidents/retraining difficulties.

Design

Postal questionnaires sent within two years of assessment to 972 disabled drivers seen over a three-year period.

Setting

Scottish Driving Assessment Service.

Subjects

All patients considered capable of driving after assessment during the study period.

Results

Five hundred and eighty-nine people (61%) replied who were representative of the total population (mean age 55 years, range 19–87); 73% were male and 70% were disabled for up to two years. Overall 79% respondents had returned to driving (highest reported success with standard manual car (86%) and lowest using left foot to accelerate and brake (66%) (χ2 = 16.6, P = 0.005)). A significantly higher proportion of the 30 patients (6.5%) admitting to accidents and 25 (5.4%) to problems with retraining were using non-standard driving techniques, especially the use of hand controls.

Conclusion

Disabled drivers returning to drive using non-familiar controls had lower success and a higher proportion of accidents and/or problems with retraining than people using conventional controls. If confirmed in larger studies this may have implications for policy-makers as well as specialist practitioners.

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