13 August 2012 – On Saturday 11 August young people with disabilities keen to start driving, together with their families and other newly disabled people needing to get back behind the wheel, came to TRL Wokingham to try adapted motoring and left feeling inspired and hugely optimistic.
From as far afield as East Somerset, Devon and Kent they joined local teenagers with disabilities, to experience the first drive of their life at Get Going Live! a free one day driving event organised by charities Disabled Motoring UK and Mobility Choice, which organises the annual Mobility Roadshow. Mobility Choice has its national office in Wokingham.
Jacqui Jones, Executive Director of Mobility Choice said: “This was the third in a short series of regional events specifically for this young audience, and we had a fantastic day. We are delighted that it attracted visitors from far and wide into the county. When you are young and disabled it is not easy to know where to begin your motoring journey – very often a vital step towards independence when embarking on further education or career. This event offered a fast track to getting started, as well as the thrill of getting behind the wheel.”
Said one parent whose daughter was driving for the first time: “This has been a great experience. It has answered a lot of questions and for my daughter allayed nervousness. It has given us all the confidence of knowing that she is going to be able to be independent.”
Young people with disabilities can gain a driving licence at 16, a year ahead of those who are not disabled. On Saturday they were able to test drive and compare different vehicles, choosing from around 20 standard production models fitted with a variety of adaptations, plus drive-from-wheelchair options, accompanied by an experienced professional driver.
In informal Ask the Driver sessions Jack Pegram, 20-year-old student and recent Olympic Torchbearer from Bushey, Herts, shared his experience of learning to drive, choosing a vehicle, finding the right adaptations and generally getting on the road.
From experts there was advice on anything from vehicle assessment and choosing adaptations, the benefits of the Motability scheme, finding an appropriate driving instructor, to simpler but often vital tips on how to transfer to and from the driver’s seat, lift wheelchairs into a boot and how to position your seat and seat belt correctly.
On a lighter note, many saw life from a new perspective up on the fully accessible 7m climbing wall and enjoyed bike rides on a selection of all-ability cycles.
The next major mobility event for the consumer is the Mobility Roadshow at Telford International Centre, 27-29 June 2013. For more information visit: www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk