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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
SUE TAYLOR

DRIVING

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Hi Everyone,

Just looking for some advice - or affirmation of what I think is ok...I've got a RBK and live in Wales in the U.K. I've been driving again for 2 weeks now and now drive an automatic car - but I drive with my left foot - the pedals on the Focus are more or less centred so its quite easy. The Licensing Authority have been informed of my amputation and now have contacted me with all sorts of forms to be completed. I'm very confident driving and have had no problems at all - but I have this nagging doubt that the Authority will throw something at me that will prevent me driving the car - I don't have any adaptations to the car - its just an automatic - but it works for me!! Anyone have a similar experience or drive with a RBK ? Sorry to waffle on - I'm a very positive person - but all the paperwork is giving me a few doubts.

SUE :rolleyes:

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although it is possible to drive an unmodified automatic with your left foot, I suspect that your local authorities will want a left foot accelerator pedal fitted as it is very easy to get your right foot caught under the brake when trying to go for the brake pedal (especially in an emergency situation) - this is due to the angles of pedals etc.

The left-foot accelerator pedal that I have fitted is hinged (as is the right one) so that either pedal can be raised out of the way or lowered for use. I adapted very quickly to using my left foot for driving. I sometimes use my prosthetic leg for driving although usually in light traffic and for short distances as I find it easier to use the left foot now.

I know of a bilateral amputee who drives unmodified cars - It would depend on how well you can manage. Here (in New Zealand) i had to be assessed by an instructor and an occupational therapist to see how I coped with driving with the left foot - and soon I want to be re-assessed so that I can get the license restrictions removed.

It will depend on the laws in your country as to what you will need to do.

David

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I am a RBK and have been driving since the age of 18 with no adaptions and at first my license had a restriction of automatic transmission only. I started out as everyone else driving with my left foot, but my ex-husband stated he thought I could drive with my right foot given some practice so because we live in a small community we would take go out and I would drive using the right foot. At first I just accelerated with the right foot and used the left for breaking did that for a while then I added breaking with my right foot as well. I have been driving with my right foot for about 16 years now and would never go back or modify my car. I even learned how to drive a stick shift and once I got really good at it I went down to my DMV and took the road test and passed with flying colors so they removed my restriction. At first it was hard to learn how much pressure to push on the pedals but now I don't even think about it. I think part of what makes it so easy for me is that I have worn a prosthesis for so long it's a part of me.. Even my insurance company knows I'm an amputee and they don't charge me extra or have a problem.

Every state and country is different so you need to check to see what they require you to do.

Brenda

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Hi everyone,

Thank you to all who have posted replies - it has helped me to think about the possibilities - will let you know how I get on.

SUE :rolleyes:

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I'm a RAK, I drive an automatic with my left foot. I live in England, so I suspect the rules are same for you as for me. The DVLA may want to give you a re-test so you can prove you can drive OK, and/or limit you to an automatic. As an option they may be happy with a pedal conversion and limit you to automatics without a retest. Speaking from my experience, you definitely don't 'need' to convert the pedals. I have heard of many BKs who drive manual cars without a problem, but you still may have to prove that to the DVLA.

Sorry to be negative in suggesting you may well need a re-test, but it may be worth expecting it, then it'll be a bonus if you don't need it.

Good luck, whatever

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I've been driving since I was 18 (I'm 35 now) without a problem. With my first car, I had a left-sided gas pedal put in. It was a gas pedal with a bar that reached over to the gas pedal on the right and as I pushed on the left one, the bar would push down on the rigt. It wasn't required but my parents felt it might be easier for me. When I got my second car a few years later I left it off and have been driving with my left foot using the right-sided gas pedal since. My amputation has never been an issue when getting my license or renewing it. I did have a guy say to me once when he noticed I limped that I might have to take my test over some day. It shocked me to say the least because I have a clean driving record. I found out soon after though that they can't make you do that just because of a missing limb. They need to prove your driving skills are bad first by showing you've had a lot of tickets, accidents, etc. That's the way it is in the US at least. I would look into it if I were you.

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They need to prove your driving skills are bad first by showing you've had a lot of tickets, accidents, etc. That's the way it is in the US at least. I would look into it if I were you.

If only... that's not the way it is in the UK, the onus of proof is on you to prove you can drive OK, and it's your duty to inform the licencing authority of any change in circumstances.

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I agree, I informed the DVLA after my amputation - which was only in November 2003! I'm very mobile with my new leg and driving again has been very natural - I don't think twice about my leg when I drive now - just the first few times and now I've been driving again for 3 weeks. I did write to the DVLA and informed them that I've been driving since I was 18 and I'm almost 35 now - also have had no accidents, fines or points up till now. I've also told them I'm active and have no mobility problems - I just have a false Foot!!!

I don't mind an assessment - I hope its not a full test - I think most people who have been driving for years would dread a new test!!

Will keep you informed and thanks for the responses - they've been encouraging to read.

SUE :angry:

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i cannot drive and am very grateful as in france everyone are maniacs.they do not know what indicaters are and every time i get in the car i close my eyes and hope for the best

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Hi Sue,

l live in Wales and yes you can drive a car if you are a rbk and that's from MOTABILITY, and you can use your prostheses also you don't need any hand controls, Sue you have a Ford well look on there web-site and look for Ford MAGIC they have a book called DRIVING AFTER AMPUTATION get them to send you one and why don't you join DDMC they are there for people like us phone number is 01832-734724 it will cost you a tenner good luck and have loads of safe and happy miles Keith

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Keith,

Thanks for the message. I will look up the contacts you gave me. What part of Wales are you from? I'm from Cardiff - but I travel to Morriston, Swansea to see my prosthetist. They are such a fab team and the care is also great.

Thanks again.

Sue. :rolleyes:

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Hi Sarah,

I have a friend who has moved to France to live - in the Ven Dee Valley and she tells me that you are right about the french drivers!!

Thanks for the message.

Sue :rolleyes:

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I too am RBK. But I usually drive with my right (fake) foot. I currently own an automatic but I owned a 4 speed stick fro 10 years and didn't have any problems. I disagree with Dave. I've been driving for nearly 20 years and have never caught my foot under the break. It might have to due with driving on the opposite side of the car as I'm an American (Death to Sadam!!! and the French J/K)

The first car I've EVER had to modify is the one I own now (a 1996 Chevy S-10 4X4) I had to duct tape a block of wood to the gas pedel.

You know Doug Adams, being English, was wrong when he said that a white towle was the most useful thing in the univerce. Slightly more useful is duct tape. Has any one here duct taped thier leg on? I have

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Hello Sue

Well I live in Powys mid-Wales Newtown but born in south Wales about 16 miles from Bridgend and I go to Wrexham ALAC it's OK to a point but I've not seen anyone for a few month since I've become a bi-lateral so hopfuly they can come up with what I need I will keep in touch, the problem is they could not get my lbk right nad thet took a year and now with this rbk I have my doughts, I will see them thursday this week for the first fiting they do seem to palm you of with the very basic, we will see Sue.

Take care Keith :rolleyes:

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I'm a RAK, I drive an automatic with my left foot.

Same here, and I drove an automatic crossing my foot over for a while, but that meant I had to sit a bit twisted and I started developing some back pain. For a relatively inexpensive conversion, I can't do anything but recommend you have a left-foot gas pedal installed.

Driving without it isn't anywhere near impossible, and I doubt it's unsafe, but it certainly is uncomfortable and gets tiring. Why put up with that?

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I'm a RAK, I drive an automatic with my left foot.

Same here, and I drove an automatic crossing my foot over for a while, but that meant I had to sit a bit twisted and I started developing some back pain. For a relatively inexpensive conversion, I can't do anything but recommend you have a left-foot gas pedal installed.

Driving without it isn't anywhere near impossible, and I doubt it's unsafe, but it certainly is uncomfortable and gets tiring. Why put up with that?

Though I'm sure it's worked for you, I 'certainly' have never found it uncomfortable and it doesn't get tiring. Your experience certainly doesn't tally with mine. I haven't got room here to list all the cars I have driven over the last 20 years, and I've never found one that requires me to twist or that gives me back pain. Maybe my leg is longer than yours or something (although I'm only 5' 6" tall)?

So, you see, I don't see the point in paying out for something I definitely don't need, and it would probably confuse the hell out of me after all this time!

"Yes officer..... you see, I didn't mean to drive through the red light, but I've had this new pedal conversion fitted"

:o

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I've not found any problems driving with my left foot - I'm only 5 ft tall so I have short legs and maybe thats why they dont cramp or cause me back ache? Also the pedals in the focus automatic are very well placed - the brake is right in the middle and the gas just near to it - and I've only got small feet - size 4 - so I dont have a problem pressing either pedal - I dont hit one instead of the other!!

Its interesting reading all points of view and suggestions also.

Sue

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Hi,

Thought I would share my exprience with you. Just bought another car, as I had a standard transmission, which I couldn't drive. This is an automatic. Had it fitted for a left side gas pedal. Live in Mexico, so had a local backsmith make it. Not having seen a left side gas pedal I wasn't sure what to expect, or how it should be installed. This one was installed right next to the brake pedal, not a half inch apart, and the same height as the brake pedal. You guessed it, I went for the brake and got the gas as well. Hit the house, but did no damage. I am just so thankful that I only hit my house, I could have hit a person and then I would never have gotten over that. A friend's husband came to my aid and took the car back to the blacksmith and explained how the pedal should be re-made and installed. It now works very nice and I am unable to hit both pedals at once. I just take driving much more seriously now.

Jan

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Hi Jan,

I've now clocked up over 3,000 miles in my car - automatic with no adjustments. Its a really great car to drive and now I dont give it a second thiught when I drive with my left foot - its as though I've always driven this way - amazing how you can re-train the brain!

Sue - Cardiff - UK :unsure:

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I'm contemplating doing as Bear did and have my limb salvage prosthesis removed and not replaced. It is my right leg and would be a high above knee. Is it still possible to drive with a leg like this? I am not the most coordinated person so using my left leg would probably be more of a danger to others than myself. I have seizures and some cognitive issues due to possible MS or Lupus.

Thanks,

Bonnie

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Hi Bonnie,

At my limb centre there is a chap who is above right knee amp - about the same age as me and he drives a car and a motorbike also. He was there the 1st time I visited the centre from the hospital and I got talking to him abut my fears for driving again - he said to me that I would never know until I tried - and that was so right. Before I had the automatic car I practised in my Sep-Dads / Mums car at a car park in our local Tesco Super Store - it was quiet and I used the little slip road at the back of the recycling banks. After a few practise runs - I then drove home (not far). It was weird at first driving with my left foot - but now its good and completely natural.

If you know someone who has a car - try it first a couple of times before you make a decision.

Good luck

Sue - Cardiff - UK

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