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It can come as a blow if you have to stop driving for a long period or permanently. As well as affecting your independence, people tell us it has a real emotional impact. You might need some emotional support, as well as practical help with getting around.
Emotional impact of not driving
Some of the emotional impact of driving can come from worries about losing your independence. You may feel frustration about having to rely on others. It can seem like a lot to cope with if you have to plan and organise your own transport, instead of getting in the car.
If you drive for work you might be worried about your ability to earn money. Parents or carers may feel stressed about how they can visit relatives or take children to school. Some of the practical challenges of getting around can be greater in rural areas where public transport is harder to access.
Talk to your family or friends about how you feel. Our Helpline can give you more ideas about how to get emotional support. They can also help you find more about mobility and alternatives to driving.
Driving assessment centres can also advise on alternative types of transport, and can offer repeat driving assessments in future if the health effects which have stopped you driving improve.
How to get around when you can’t drive
If you are receiving certain benefits you might be able to exchange some or all of your benefit to lease a new car, powered wheelchair or scooter through the Motability Scheme. To be eligible you need to be on a disability benefit such as the higher-rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Others include the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement and Armed Forces Independence Payment.
Even if you can’t drive, you can still get a Motability vehicle and choose other people to drive for you. A Motability car could be used to drive you around, and for journeys to support you even if you’re not in the car, such as doing your shopping.
The Blue Badge Scheme
The Blue Badge scheme lets you park in convenient spaces in car parks and on-street parking areas. You do not have to be the main driver or vehicle owner: you can use your badge in any car, as a driver or passenger.
The Blue Badge scheme is run by local councils.
You are automatically eligible for a Blue Badge if you:
- Are registered as blind.
- Get the higher mobility rate for DLA or score more than 8 point in a PIP assessment.
- Receive certain armed forces disability payments.
You might be eligible if you:
- Cannot walk without help.
- Find walking very difficult, because of pain, breathlessness, or the time it takes.
- Have difficulty using both arms and cannot operate pay and display parking machines.
- Have severe difficulty with planning or following a journey.
- Lack awareness of your actions, and the impact you might have on others.
- Have extreme anxiety about open spaces.
How it works
You should display the badge so it is clearly visible through the front windscreen. You should also be sent a parking clock to use when parking on yellow lines or other parking areas with time restrictions. You set the time to show what time you parked the car, and display next to the badge.
If your Blue Badge is misused, such as someone else using your badge while you are not in the car, it is a criminal offence and may result in a £1,000 fine.
Check eligibility and apply online in England, Wales and Scotland at gov.uk/apply-blue-badge or
in Northern Ireland, see nidirect.gov.uk/articles/apply-or-renew-blue-badge
Using public transport if you have a disability or health condition might feel daunting, and services vary by area, but there is support available. This includes accessible transport and fare discounts.
By law, most public transport providers have to make sure that people with disabilities can access their services. This can include providing individual assistance at airports, or a wheelchair ramp for boarding a bus or train. Sometimes you need to tell the transport provider in advance, but most services and adjustments should be available on demand.
Find out on the Gov.uk website about the help and support you are entitled to on all forms of public transport, including travelling by train, bus, plane, taxi and boat. Help is also available from Hubs Mobility Advice Services.
Travel training and mentoring
An occupational therapist can help you to work out techniques for getting around. They can tell you about other help available such as travel mentoring or buddy schemes.
Some local transport authorities or transport companies offer help and training to give you confidence using public transport. You may be able to get mobility training if you have sight loss.
In London, Transport for London offers a free disabled traveller mentoring scheme.
Discounts and passes
There are several types of travel discounts and free passes available.
Discounted travel for people seeking work
The Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card gives 50% discount on many types of rail tickets as well as Stagecoach buses and Oyster pay-as-you-go fares in London. The card is available to people who are on benefits and seeking work. You can apply at your local Jobcentre Plus.
You may be able to buy a Disabled Person’s Railcard. This entitles you to a third off the cost of most rail fares in England, Scotland and Wales. It also gives you a third off pay-as-you go Oyster fares on Transport for London trains and tubes. If you live in Northern Ireland, you could be entitled to a half fare SmartPass which can be used for bus and rail travel.
People in the UK can get a free bus pass at the age of 60, except for England where you need to be of State Pension age. In London, you can get a Freedom Pass at 60 for use on all London buses, trains and trams.
You may be entitled to a free bus pass if you have a disability. In England and Scotland contact your local council, or local authorities in Wales. For Northern Ireland, you may be entitled to the SmartPass, which gives you half-price travel, if you receive the mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Coping with everyday life if you can’t drive
Driving and work
If you need to drive as part of your work, a stroke can affect your income and way of life.
Driving for a living
If you drive for a living, you might have to take a break from your usual work until the DVLA/DVA allows you to return to driving. Some people will not be able to go back to work, and may need to re-train or look for new types of work. People tell us that this can be a huge challenge.
Seek advice from your local Jobcentre Plus, which has advisors for people with disabilities. Ask your GP if there are occupational health services in your area that can support you.
Licensed taxi drivers must tell their local authority licensing department about their stroke and any medical conditions. Drivers of lorries or buses usually have a minimum of a year away from driving after a stroke or TIA. If you drive a police or health service vehicle, your employer may follow the same rules as for larger vehicle drivers.
Sick pay and benefits
If you are off work while recovering from a stroke or TIA, you might get sick pay from your employer. If you are self-employed you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit. See our benefits and financial help page for more information.
Returning to work as a driver
If you are able to go back to driving, you may need to change your working hours or shift pattern to avoid fatigue. You might need to use vehicle adaptations or different equipment for some tasks. If you are employed, speak to your employer about how the stroke could affect your work and discuss a ‘return-to-work plan’. This could include regular chats with your manager to check if there are any problems, and agree any adjustments needed to help you return to work.
Getting to your workplace
If you rely on a car to get to work, you may be able to get funding for taxis to work via the Access to Work scheme. Access to Work aims to help people with disabilities get work and stay in employment by providing support and funding for adjustments. Visit their website or speak to a Disability Employment Adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus (Jobs and Benefits Office in Northern Ireland).
You may be able to get to work on public transport, or your firm may have a car share scheme for colleagues. Some types of work can be carried out from home instead with agreement from your employer.
For more information about returning to work and changing careers after a stroke, visit our work page.
Local trips for everyday essentials
There are several options for transport on local trips such as for shopping. Your options might differ if you live in a rural area, or have a less accessible route such as steep hills. It also depends on your needs. Some people might be able to use a self-powered vehicle like an adapted bicycle, and some will need a car or minibus with a hoist to help them get in and out.
In many areas, local councils provide community transport schemes for people who have disabilities and are unable to use public transport. The services vary, but they may be able to take you door-to-door to places in your local area or on shopping trips. Contact your local council to find out more about schemes in your area.
There are also dial-a-ride services in many parts of the UK where you can book wheelchair-accessible transport.
Many towns and shopping centres in England and Wales offer Shopmobility schemes that hire out manual wheelchairs and powered scooters to anyone who needs help with getting out and about.
You can use these to get to the shops and indoors. Costs vary but there is usually an affordable membership option, and it is often free if you have a Blue Badge for disabled parking.
Wheelchairs and scooters
You can hire or borrow powered wheelchairs and scooters from Shopmobility and other providers. The Red Cross offers short term hire for a range of types of wheelchair.
If you are thinking of getting a powered chair or mobility scooter, you may be able to get help with funding from Access to Work, Motability or disability charity grants.
For tips about powered chairs, getting a chair into a car, and funding a new chair visit ridc.org.uk/features-reviews/out-and-about
Even if you are new to cycling or lack confidence, you may be able to use an accessible bicycle or tricycle. Options for cycling include:
- Electric bikes or tricycles enable you to go further with fatigue. A regular bike can be adapted with an electric conversion kit. Check the rules on high-powered electric bikes first.
- Two-wheeled bikes can be adapted in a number of ways such as adding hand cranks, adjusting pedals for use with one weak leg, one-handed brakes and electronic gears.
- A wheelchair can be adapted to be a handcycle.
- Ride with another person on a tandem, including a wheelchair tandem where a cyclist behind powers the wheelchair in front.
- Tricycles and quadcycles can work for people with different needs and abilities, and include recumbents and tandems.
For more information about accessible cycling visit Bikeability.
Getting to health appointments
For trips to hospital, some people are eligible for a non-emergency patient transport scheme. Your GP or medical professional who gave you the appointment can advise you.
You might be able to reclaim the cost of your transport to hospital through the NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme. For more details about this and other help with health costs, visit our financial help pages.
Family and caring
If you are a parent or look after someone else, you might rely on a car to carry out your responsibilities.
If you are a parent with a disability that prevents you from driving your dependent child to school, you should be able to get school transport for your children from your local authority. This is often provided for children with disabilities or special needs but it should also apply to parents with disabilities. Arranging school transport can be a long process, but you can seek help from a specialist organisation such as IPSEA.
Travel for carers
There is some help available with travel for carers. This includes discounts for train, bus and coach, including a third off your ticket if you are travelling with someone who has a Disabled Person’s Railcard. Check with your local authority to find out what discounts are available on your local transport services.
Travel counts as an expense for Carer’s Allowance, so you do not have to pay travel costs out of any Carer’s Allowance you may receive.
Holidays and leisure
Holidays and leisure time are important to your wellbeing. Being active and meeting friends can support your recovery and your emotional and physical health.
There is a range of options for accessible leisure and travel. Some ideas include:
- Hiring rugged mobility scooters for countryside walks.
- Using volunteer drivers to get to community activities.
- Joining a club or group that does group journeys or holidays.
- Inclusive sports like cycling and sailing.