There has been a sharp rise in the number of motorists with a disability in the last few years and this is largely thanks to the superb Motability scheme and various adaptations that can be made to automobiles to make them easy, safe and comfortable for those with a wide range of disabilities to drive.
So, what does the future of driving look like for those with a disability? It is easy to see more and more disabled motorists taking to the roads as it becomes more common practice and also thanks to improving technology. Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) have had a huge impact in recent times by allowing wheelchair users to easily access an automobile and then either ride as passenger or as driver. There has then been the introduction of adaptations such as hand controlled pedals and a joystick instead of a steering wheel.
These adaptations will continue to be made to help those with a wide range of conditions to get behind the wheel. The process can be simple too, as an individual can benefit from lessons in an adapted car by a specialist and they will then simply have to pass the test (the same test that everyone takes) in an adapted car. They will then receive a license to drive but they will only be legally allowed to operate an adapted vehicle.
One of the biggest changes on the horizon in terms of motoring for those with a disability will be the introduction of self-driving cars. This may be a way off yet, but there are constantly new developments being made and tests completed which suggests that this certainly will be the future of driving. There are many obstacles to overcome first, such as developing an infrastructure and ethical decisions, but this would have an enormous impact on the disabled community as it can still be a huge challenge to learn how to drive and in many cases there are disabled individuals who are unable to learn in an adapted vehicle.
Self-driving cars will make it easier for those with a disability to get around and provide a great deal of independence. Many disabled individuals rely on a carer to help them with day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping, but this is not an ideal solution and does not provide much independence. Self-driving vehicles will change all of this and there could even be solutions like autonomous shuttles to arrange trips out.
There have been many great steps taken in terms of motoring for disabled individuals in recent times, but there is still a lot more that can be done and it seems that self-driving vehicles will be the end goal.