Firstly I want to clarify myself on this issue because the last thing I want to do is give an opinion which isn’t completely true.
To start with, when I say ‘drive’ I mean land-based vehicles such as cars, vans, trucks and even motorcycles – not planes or ships, I’m not knowledgeable in these fields.
Driving most-land based vehicles is possible via the usage of a mixture of hand controls and handicap driving equipment.
The hand controls refer to pieces of gear which allow your hands to engage/disengage the floor pedals, and it’s usually the case you’ll have one hand on the handle of your hand controls and the other on your steering wheel.
The handicap driving equipment is with regards to additional equipment used in conjunction with your hand controls to allow for safe and comfortable driving.
Devices which would fall under the ‘safe’ category would be pedal guards which protect the pedal from accidental engagement from your legs. Whereas devices such as secondary control keypads which would allow you to turn on the head lights or shift your turn signals would most likely be classed as ‘comfortable driving’ – assuming you didn’t have further medical complications aside from regular paraplegia.
After choosing the correct gear for your medical requirements, vehicle and personal comfort preferences there’s then the process of learning how to drive once more – or in some cases learning to drive.
This can be achieved personally or via a disabled driving school, it’s really up to you and perhaps how much money you have because disabled driving lessons can be very expensive – not to mention hard to find if you live in a rural area.
Just remember that for the UK/US there are stringent disabled equality laws to protect the rights of those who are living disabilities. I’m not going to spend too long on this section, but ultimately as long as you can prove that you can drive safely like everyone else then there won’t be a problem with you driving again.
This means taking your driving test to get your license just like everyone else, although of course you can use your disabled equipment. Some statistics have actually shown that disabled drivers are safer than regular able-bodied drivers so unless you have serious medical conditions (such as prolonged blackouts) then there shouldn’t be anything stopping you.
I think ultimately you’ll need to judge for yourself as to whether you’re able to safely drive again, but in the vast majority of cases there’s nothing stopping you.
You may find yourself with a medical obstacle which you would think would bar you from driving, such as having an incredibly weak grasp in the one hand required to use your hand control handle.
In this instance you could simply have a palm grip installed or have it installed on the other side of the steering wheel so you can use your other hand.
You have to be incredibly ill in order for driving to be completely impossible. On the other hand some of the more advanced driving systems can easily cost into the thousands of dollars, so it might not be your disability which holds you back at the end of the day.
Regardless, driving using just your hands is easily possible and is something which I strongly feel should at least be tried and tested because of the independence and freedom brought.