A quick guide to driving with a physical disability

A quick guide to driving with a physical disability

Driving can be an incredibly freeing experience. If you’re eligible to pursue an OKU driving license, it is definitely worth learning simply for the level of autonomy that driving provides.

Of course, there are several aspects to keep in mind that will ensure you’re driving responsibly. Below are some of the most important considerations:

Drive the safest car you have access to

The total weight of your car cannot exceed 3500kg. If possible, try to acquire a vehicle with up-to-date safety systems, such adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning systems.

Such systems will make it easier to navigate the road even in emergency situations. At the very least, it will help reduce the mental strain of keeping tabs on countless variables while driving.

Modify your vehicle according to physical needs

There are several simple modifications for accessible driving that are – thankfully – also inexpensive. This can include:

  • Hand controls –This is operated using a hand lever that’s attached to your brakes and accelerator, and makes it so that you can control your speed without using your legs.
  • Amputee rings – Another simple car modification for drivers with below-elbow amputations. The rings clamp onto the steering wheel, allowing for a prosthetic to be attached.
  • Assist straps – This tool helps pull yourself up, then in or out of a vehicle. This tool is strapped to the vehicle’s window frame through the front or back door. Keep in mind that these straps must be removed before driving begins. You’d want your windows clear of obstructions to maintain visibility.

Be diligent with regular car maintenance

A well-maintained vehicle is a much safer one. Getting a car with proper safety systems is wonderful, but won’t matter much if it malfunctions during your drive.

So keep tabs on how often you service your car. Make sure the essentials are always working fine, such as your accelerator and emergency brake. This, of course, includes any assistive tools you use for driving.

Prioritise defensive driving

Driving can sometimes bring out the worst personality traits in people. Although being calm and maintaining good driving habits can be easier said than done, doing so is crucial both for your safety and others on the road.

This is especially important if you have physical limitations that make it more challenging to immediately react to unexpected situations while driving.

In other words, be ‘defensive’, not aggressive. This includes several key safety habits:

  • Never allow yourself to get distracted. Keep your eyes on the road and regularly make use of your rearview mirrors.
  • Do NOT rely on nearby drivers to ensure your safety for you. Just because you might be able to brake on time does not mean others will. So keep a safe distance whenever possible.
  • By extension, don’t tailgate or ‘brake check’ other drivers. Contributing to potential road rage and stress doesn’t do anyone any favours.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel. Alternatively, keep one hand ready to hit the brakes in emergencies, assuming that you’re utilising a pedal extension tool or something similar.
  • Maintain a safe driving speed. Stay within the speed limit, though keep in mind that driving too slow can be as dangerous as driving too fast.
  • Always use your indicators where applicable and stick to the appropriate lanes, depending on your driving speed.


Dr. Handicap (2018) 10 Driving Tips That All Disabled Drivers Should Know [Accessed 24 July 2023] Available at: https://drhandicap.com/insights/driving-tips-all-disabled-drivers-should-know/

Disability Support Guide (2022) Learning to drive with disability [Accessed 24 July 2023] Available at: https://www.disabilitysupportguide.com.au/information/article/learning-to-drive-with-disability

Bhavna Sarin (2021) Driving accessibility and inclusion for PwD [Accessed 25 July 2023] Available at: https://www.peoplematters.in/article/diversity/driving-accessibility-and-inclusion-for-pwd-31815