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Driving as an Amputee

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January 8th, 2020

Amputee Driving

If you have experienced limb loss, you can still retain your independence through driving. Driving as an amputee, like many day-to-day activities, can be done with modification. Modifications are available for almost any vehicle, but the types of vehicles and modifications appropriate for each driver are based entirely on your individual needs and preferences. In this guide, we will go over some of the most common questions asked so that you can feel comfortable stepping back into the driver’s seat.

Is it legal for me to drive?

Yes! People with all levels of upper or lower extremity amputation can still drive a car. However, you will need to report your amputation to the Texas Department of Safety (for those that are outside of Texas, see your state’s driving licensing center). They will then assign you to a License and Permit Specialist. The specialist may ask additional questions, require a physician’s statement, or require you to take a driving, written, and vision test. Based on the results of these tests, you may be called back to the driver’s license office for further investigation. Check out the links below for more information on the process.

Information on Licensing in Texas

DPS Limb Waiver

How do I know what modifications I will need?

To know what exact modifications you and your vehicle will need, we recommend a driving assessment by a qualified Driver Rehabilitation Provider. These assessments are essential to ensure personal safety—each person’s needs are unique; no two modifications are the same, even for persons with a similar type of amputation. Additionally, a proper evaluation can save you the money you might have wasted on the wrong equipment. 

To find a Driver Rehabilitation Provider in your area, contact our office or search ADED’s national database.

Do I need a new vehicle?

Not necessarily. Before you go and purchase a new vehicle, check with your Driver Rehabilitation Provider to see what modifications can be to your existing vehicle. Should they recommend a new vehicle, they will assist you in determining if a car, truck, full-sized van, or a mini-van will be the best fit. Your provider will consider many things, including:

  • Physical limitations
  • Ability to enter and exit the vehicle
  • Special modifications needed
  • Height and weight
  • Funding assistance available and tax credits

What types of modifications are available?

  • Automatic Transmission
    We usually don’t think of an automatic transmission as an adaptive device, but an automatic transmission eliminates the need for a clutch and manual shift. 
  • Stability Management
    Stability management systems help control the rebound energy in vehicle suspensions, so drivers and passengers won’t get jostled around, and your vehicle retains stability. The device can prevent road bumps, wind jostling from passing trucks, rollovers, and other accidents caused by vehicle instability.
  • Steering Devices
    For those with upper limb amputation, steering devices provide drivers with no grip or diminished wrist stability as a means of controlling the wheel. These may include—steering knobs, tri-pins, steering cuffs, modified effort steering, and floor-mounted steering.
  • Other Devices
    • Raised roof or floor
    • Left foot accelerator
    • Pedal extender
    • Steering column extension
    • Right-hand turn signal
    • Remote switches
    • Customized seats
    • Ramps
    • Wheelchair or scooter lifts
    • Power seats

Ready to begin driving again? We are here to help! Our staff is available to walk you through the process and arm you with the knowledge necessary to help you get on the road. Please speak with your PCC or contact our office with any questions or concerns you have.

Every prosthesis is unique just like our patients.

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