Skip Navigation

Main sections

Skip section navigation (navigation may have changed)

Section navigation

girlshealth.gov logo

http://www.girlshealth.gov/

Driving and getting around

Girl driving a car.

Maps, routes, fares, bus stops — there’s a lot to know about public transportation. It’s a lot easier if you get info in advance, so ask an adult for help.

You also might ask about mobility instruction for people with disabilities. These lessons teach things like how traffic intersections work and how to get on a bus safely. You may be able to get these lessons from your local transit authority, a rehabilitation specialist, or your school.

Few things say “freedom!” as much as being able to get around on your own. Check out the information below to learn ways to drive safely as well as other options for getting where you want to go.

Of course, whether you have an illness or disability or not, being on the road is serious business. In fact, in 2008 more than 350,000 teens were treated in hospital emergency rooms because of motor vehicle crashes. Never drive drunk or get into a car with a driver who is. Wear your seatbelt. And always make sure you or anyone who drives you follows the rules of the road. Be smart — leave crashing for the test dummies!

Driving arrow top

Each illness or disability may bring its own special concerns when it comes to driving. If you have type 1 diabetes, for example, you may need to check that your blood sugar level isn’t low to help avoid getting sleepy or confused while driving. Or, if you have ADHD and have trouble staying focused sometimes, you may need to remind yourself to drive slowly and safely.

Keep in mind that different states have different rules about driving with illnesses and disabilities. Check with your department of motor vehicles to learn more.

If you have a physical disability that makes it hard to drive, you may benefit from assistive technology, which includes tools like the following:

  • Special seats that help you get into and out of a car
  • Hand controls that operate the brakes and accelerator, if you can’t use your feet
  • Turn signals placed on the right, if you can’t use your left arm

To learn about making changes to your vehicle, contact a driving rehabilitation specialist. If you need help finding a driving rehabilitation specialist, your vocational rehabilitation office or department of disability services may have a list of names and other useful information. You also can contact the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists or the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association .

If you need help paying for assistive technology for driving, consider these tips:

  • Your state may have programs that provide funding. To find out, contact your state's department of disability services or vocational rehabilitation office.
  • If you have private health insurance, you may be covered for adaptive devices and vehicle modification. Check with your insurance company.
  • Some car companies will help you pay for changes.
  • Nonprofit groups focused on disabilities may have grant programs that help pay for adaptive devices.

If you are deaf, you likely will be able to drive. If you have trouble seeing, whether you can drive (and how) is decided by how well you can see. Check with your motor vehicle bureau for your state’s rules.

There are steps you can take to make sure you’re staying safe. For example, you can make up for some hearing loss by using special mirrors that let you see more of the road. Also, you can take driver’s education classes using a sign language interpreter, if that helps. If you have vision problems, you may be able to use devices called bioptic telescopic glasses. These attach to your glasses and work like binoculars to help you see things farther ahead. That way, you can react more quickly to road conditions and situations.

Public transportation arrow top

Maps, routes, fares, bus stops — there’s a lot to know about public transportation. It’s a lot easier if you get info in advance, so ask an adult for help.

You also might ask about mobility instruction for people with disabilities. These lessons teach things like how traffic intersections work and how to get on a bus safely. You may be able to get these lessons from your local transit authority, a rehabilitation specialist, or your school.

Did you know that all new public buses and rail vehicles like subway cars have to be accessible to people in wheelchairs? It’s the law. They may have lifts or ramps to help people in wheelchairs.

For people who cannot use fixed route bus services, many cities provide what is known as paratransit. Paratransit services usually have vans or mini-buses with wheelchair lifts or ramps. To schedule a pick-up, you call the transit agency. To find paratransit, you can look for your city’s transit agency in the phonebook. You probably have to sign up in advance to use this service. Then you call to schedule a pick-up.

 

Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

top