Learning to drive is an exciting time.  It offers a chance to become more independent in how you choose to travel.

Having a special educational need or disability does not stop you from learning to drive.  There can be more to think about such as:

  • do you need a car that is specially adapted
  • do you need an instructor that has experience of teaching people with additional needs
  • do you need an instructor who knows British Sign Language
  • should you learn to drive in an automatic or manual gear car

White car with a learner driver sign on top

How do I get started?

You need a provisional licence to start driving. 

To hold a licence you must meet the medical standards of fitness to drive.

If you think you have a medical condition that could affect your fitness to drive then ask your GP or optician. 

You can visit the DVLA website for more information: www.gov.uk/driving-medical-conditions

Apply for a provisional driving licence by clicking on the below image.

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Choosing a driving instructor

It is important you choose a driving instructor who works with and for you.

It is a good idea to speak to the driving instructor before you book any lessons to talk about what extra support you need.  They will then be able to plan any lessons that will work for you.

Searching for a driving instructor

There are a number of driving instructors and schools out there.  

Some instructors can be found at Disability Driving.  You can search by postcode and filter on what experience of SEND the driving instructor has.  Click on the below logo.

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Many larger companies offer driving instructors who support those with SEND.  When enquiring, make sure you call them to check they can support your needs.

Yellow circle with text that says AA driving school

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The UK Driving Test

There are currently two parts to the UK driving test.

  1. Theory Test – multiple choice questions and hazard perception videos
  2. Practical Test – driving skills and safety test

To become a driver in the UK you have to pass both the theory and practical tests.

The theory test must be passed before taking the practical test. You can start learning to drive before you take the theory test.

You can take both tests as many times as you need to pass.  It is important to note that there are no adjustments that can be made to the standard required to pass. 

There are ways to support someone with special educational needs to achieve and show the skills and knowledge needed.

For the theory test some of the options are:

  • Practicing online or with DVD, CDs and books such as the Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and The Official DVSA Theory Test
  • For reading difficulties consider audio books
  • You can find out more by visiting the government website.

For the practical test, it is a good idea to:

  • choose an instructor with specialist experience and who you feel comfortable with
  • discuss with the instructor any techniques that have helped learning in the past
  • consider asking the instructor if someone supportive can sit in on your first few lessons.  This can be helpful if you have anxiety or communication needs.
  • try an automatic car as well as a car with manual gears
  • be prepared to take more and/or longer lessons if needed

Further advice

If you need further advice before applying for your first provisional driving licence you can contact Driving Mobility.  You can call them on 0800 559 3636 or click on the logo below to go to their website.

They can arrange a pre-driving assessment that can be carried out before applying.  You would need to have received your provisional driving licence before doing the in-car driving assessment – unless the assessment centre has off road facilities.  They will give you an honest opinion of your skills and ability.

A circle that has a white centre with a rainbow coloured outer ring.  Text underneath says Driving Mobility

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