Driving a car

Most amputees will be able to return to driving and if necessary there is usually no difficulty in adapting a vehicle to individual requirements. Special conditions may apply for driving larger vehicles.
The first step is to visit your GP to consider if you are ready to return to driving and whether adaptations may be necessary. You may require referral to a driving assessment service. Your local Disability Resource Centre will be able to give you this information.

Vehicle modifications can include:

  • hand controls to brake and accelerator
  • steering and secondary control aids
  • left-foot accelerator conversions
  • clutch conversions
  • handbrake devices
  • additional car mirrors
  • seatbelt modifications (it should be noted that there are rarely any disabilities that would stop you from wearing a seatbelt)
  • harnesses
  • special seating
  • wheelchair stowage equipment

If your disability is more severe, the modifications can include:

  • joystick and foot steering (a four-way joystick can be used to steer, accelerate and brake)
  • infra-red remote control systems, which mean you can get in the vehicle and drive from a wheelchair with complete independence

If a vehicle has to be modified, the alterations will need to be carried out by a recognised organisation. Before you can use the vehicle on the road, it needs to display a certification label detailing the alterations.

After undergoing an amputation, you’ll need to consult with your doctor who may:

  • Issue a doctor’s certificate stating that you should only drive an automatic vehicle and/or the vehicle should be fitted with special mechanical devices
  • Refer you to a driving assessment service.

There is usually no difficulty adapting an artificial limb to a vehicle or a vehicle to a limb. For more information contact a driving assessment service. To find out where your nearest assessment service is, you can phoneEnable NZ call-free on 0800 171981 or Accessable on 0508 001002.

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