Driving from a Wheelchair

Driving from a Wheelchair

Monday, 29 August 2016

Irish Wheelchair Association Launches Irelands First Drive from Wheelchair Tuition Vehicle

CEO of Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) Rosemary Keogh was joined by people with disabilities and their families for the official launch of Irelands first 'Drive from Wheelchair Tuition Vehicle' on Thursday, 25th August 2016. The vehicle will provide people with physical disabilities who use a power wheelchair the opportunity to learn to drive safely alongside an IWA Driving Instructor and securely from their own wheelchair.

IWA provides driving tuition in 10 centres throughout the county with the programme and duration of tuition tailored to suit the person's individual needs. The team of specialist and experienced driving instructors provide over 5,000 lessons annually and boasts a very high driving test pass rate. The introduction of this new vehicle to the Association's fleet of driving school cars will open up a whole new world of opportunities for people with physical disabilities, particularly individuals who use power wheelchairs. The Drive from Wheelchair Vehicle will enable students to increase their independence and freedom, as well as providing them with an opportunity to seek employment, further their education and lead an active social life.

Speaking at the launch today, Rosemary Keogh, CEO of IWA explained:

IWA is delighted to include a Drive from Wheelchair Vehicle to our fleet of driving school cars. The vehicle features a range of adaptations, controls and assistive technology which makes driving possible for those with a very wide range of physical disabilities.

Driving is probably one of the most important skills acquired during a lifetime in terms of the potential it releases for an individual to be independent. Unfortunately many people who develop a disability as a consequence of an illness or accident find their capacity to drive is affected and this greatly impacts their independence. They quickly find themselves dependent on others for transportation and feel less in control of what they can do and where and when they can do it.

Likewise, many people with life-long disabilities who have not learnt to drive have never experienced the freedom and independence that motoring brings. IWA aims to support as many of our members as possible in getting on the road. The introduction of the new vehicle with its extensive range of assistive features will enable many people who never had the opportunity to learn to drive the chance to gain the skill, experience and confidence necessary to pass their driving test.

Last year, over 500 people were assessed or received driving tuition from the IWA Driving School. The impact of this service is evident in the numbers of people with disabilities whose lives have been transformed by being able to drive, significantly people living in rural Ireland where there is limited accessible public transport. The Association works closely alongside the Department of Transport and the National Road Safety Authority on a range of transport and motoring issues for disabled motorists and passengers.

Speaking of the Launch Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said:

Access to driver training is key for persons with a disability to enable them to drive safely on our roads. The policy of the RSA is to promote mobility to the greatest possible degree, this acknowledges, that the independence that driving offers for persons with a disability, has a positive impact on the quality of their lives. The RSA welcomes the initiative by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) to expand its range of training vehicles and this will offer opportunities for training to those who may not have this option before. This continues the role the IWA has played in assisting and advocating for drivers with a disability over the last fifty years.

IWA will be providing lessons from the new driving school vehicle nationwide from August 2016. The Association will also be offering intensive residential courses from its National Holiday Centre in Cuisle, Co. Roscommon. For further information please contact IWA's National Mobility Centre on 045 893 094 or email maats@iwa.ie

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