Driving is a very important part of everyday life, promoting independence and providing a means to get to work, meet friends and enjoy leisure activities. It is therefore not surprising that one of the most common questions asked when people are diagnosed with Tremor is how the condition will affect their ability to drive.
Although some people do find that their driving is affected by their symptoms and the medication they take, many others continue to drive safely for years after diagnosis. Your doctor is the best person to advise on your fitness to drive and any legal obligations must be complied with, but even when difficulties arise, these can often be overcome through the use of equipment, adaptations and particular techniques that make driving easier.
Drowsiness can be a side effect of Tremor medications.
The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority (DLVA) stated that they believed the risk of sudden onset of sleep was quite low and taking Tremor medication should not lead to an automatic cessation of driving. However, anyone who experiences drowsiness should stop driving until they have discussed the problem with their doctor. Changing medication can sometimes help, but not always.
Your legal obligations include but are not necessarily limited to:
Unfortunately some insurance companies do apply extra charges to premiums, despite disability discrimination legislation. If this happens to you, always source a competitive quote from another insurer.
You may be entitled to a fee tax disc. Your local social services or welfare rights organisation can advise further or please view the DVLA website for more information.
Financial assistance may be available to people who are in receipt of certain welfare benefits or services to help fund the purchase of a more suitable car or adaptations to an existing vehicle. Your local social services or welfare rights organisation can advise further.
Occupational therapists can sometimes help with mobility issues and some countries have specialised driving and mobility centres where you can have an assessment, obtain information and try out equipment.
The EU Model Parking Card for People with Disabilities (the Blue Badge) has been adopted in many European countries. This entitles anyone who qualifies to certain parking concessions in their own country and when they travel to other parts of Europe that operate the scheme. The concessions vary between countries, but usually apply whether the holder is the driver or a passenger in a car.
The motoring organisation, The AA, has published a leaflet, European Parking Card for People with Disabilities, which explains more about using the Blue Badge in 29 European Countries.
Public transport concessions and assistance schemes
If you wish to use public transport, there may be concessions and assistance schemes available in your country to help you. Examples include local taxi schemes and rail/bus cards. Many rail companies, airports and airlines have systems in place to help passengers with disabilities, provided this is booked in advance.
To accommodate life with Tremor it will often be necessary to either change the type of car you drive or to make adaptations to your existing vehicle. Even if your symptoms do not impair your driving now it is important to consider possible future needs. So check out all available options and follow up those that are practical and will help overcome any difficulties. Examples include:
We would like to acknowledge the use of information taken from the European Parkinson’s Disease Association website www.rewritetomorrow.eu.com/