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Driving After a Spinal Cord Injury

Car accidents often result in spinal cord injuries. Pedestrian accidents and other accidents also often result in this injury, which can affect your mobility and therefore your ability to drive. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury, you will want to take these steps before getting back behind the wheel:

1) Have a professional evaluate your ability to drive. There are driving instructors, doctors, and occupational therapists who can evaluate your vision, strength, movement, and reaction time to determine whether you can safely drive after your accident. These professionals may give you the go-ahead to drive or may suggest specific therapies or other suggestions to make you capable of driving.

2) Learn to drive a vehicle with the equipment you need. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury, you may need special adaptive equipment in a car to drive safely again. You will need to train yourself to drive in this type of equipped vehicle. Rehabilitation centers offer special rehabilitation classes that can teach you this skill.

3) Get your car ready. After a spinal cord injury, you may need to equip your car with special equipment that will make it easier for you to reach controls, get in and out of the car, see the road, and buckle up. Your car may be specially adapted or you may want to buy a car with lowered floors, higher roof, and other special features. Your specific injuries will determine what changes – if any – you need to make. Speak with your doctor and physical therapist about the changes you will need to make. However, make as few changes as you need to. It will be easier to adapt to a car with fewer alterations.

4) Get your licensing ready. If you have sustained a serious spinal cord injury, you may need a note from your doctor or retesting. You may also need license plates that allow you to park in special blue zones to make it easier for you to get to your destination.

5) Get your insurance ready. As a result of your injury, your insurance coverage may have changed. You may need to pay different premiums. You may also need more coverage, as your car may cost more to replace with the new adaptive equipment.