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First time drivers – assessment & advice about learning to drive

If you have a disability, seeking help from a “Driving Mobility” assessment centre before starting driving lessons is the best way to get impartial advice about how to proceed.

The first step to getting advice about medical fitness to drive, eligibility for holding a provisional driving licence and suitability to start learning to drive is to discuss this with your doctor or other members of your medical team. They will be able to give advice about your medical fitness to drive but not your practical driving ability; they could refer you to your local Driving Mobility Assessment Centre if they consider this necessary.

Driving Mobility Assessment Centres can give impartial advice to people with special educational needs or any sort of learning difficulties with a “Potential to Learn to Drive Assessment” before you apply for your first provisional licence. This type of assessment is usually done in two visits, the first part checks that you meet the medical standards for driving, including your eyesight, then the assessors will look at your physical and thinking ability and will check your speed of reactions, finally they will look at your ability to answer basic questions like those you find in the theory test; the aim of this initial part of the assessment is look at your potential for being able to learn to drive and to decide whether you should apply for your first provisional licence. Some centres with off road facilities may be able to offer practical driving for non licence holders as part of the initial assessment, but to complete the full assessment, which would include on-road practical driving, a return to the centre once the provisional licence has been issued would be needed.

A full Driving Mobility Assessment may be useful for any first time driver if you have a disability or medical condition; it gives impartial advice about how you are going to be able to learn to drive and advises what sort of vehicle you should be learning in. The assessment would check you meet the medical standards for driving, including eyesight, and would explore fully your potential for getting to test standard for both the theory and practical test.

Assessment Centre staff would identify if you are able to drive a standard manual car or if you need an automatic, they would look at your physical ability to operate the standard controls and decide if adapted controls are needed; if you do need modified controls they would find the most suitable adaptation for your needs. The assessment would then allow you to have a drive on-road in a quiet ‘nursery area’ using the type of car, with adaptations if required, that was identified in the earlier part of the assessment; this on-road drive will, in effect, be a first driving lesson.

If you take your test in an automatic car your licence will restrict you to only driving cars with automatic transmission, if you subsequently want to drive manual cars you will need to take your test again in a manual. If adapted controls are required, once you pass your practical driving test, your first full licence would be coded by DVLA for the special vehicle controls required (DVLA would be notified by your DVSA examiner following your test pass; the restriction codes would correspond to the adaptations used during your practical test), you would then be restricted to only driving with the modified controls that you are coded for.

Advice would be given as to the best way to proceed with studying for your theory test and how you should proceed with your practical driving lessons, assessment staff should help you find a specialist driving instructor with a suitable tuition vehicle (or one who would be prepared to teach you in your own specially adapted car) and they should also explain the possibility of financial help with the cost of tuition and the cost of adaptations.

Following the assessment a you will have a debrief from the centre staff and they will produce a comprehensive report which will be sent out after the assessment has been completed.

Contact “Driving Mobility” on 0800 559 3636 (if you ring from a land line this number will put you through to your nearest Centre) or go to

Updated 18.03.2022