Meet our new car, a Ford Kuga. I think it’s pretty nice. It’s not exactly what we wanted and I can’t drive it because it is not adapted. But it’s still nice to have a new car.
We get our cars on the Motability Scheme.
The Motability Scheme enables anyone in receipt of a higher rate mobility allowance (such as the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance) to use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. The Scheme provides flexible and hassle-free access to a brand new, reliable vehicle of your choice – giving you greater freedom, everyday.
The cars are not free, you give up your benefit, or part of it, to pay a monthly lease fee. The car does not belong to you at any time and can be taken away if your benefit stops. After three years you have to give the car back, but if you are still entitled you can choose a replacement and start again.
Benefits of the Motability Scheme
When you think about it, it’s a pretty expensive way of getting a new car. You can buy a new car for the same weekly price (or less) and the car will belong to you. But the Motability scheme comes with many benefits such as:
- Insurance for up to 3 named drivers
- Break Down Recovery
- Services and MOTs
- Adaptations that would cost a fortune to have fitted yourself
When you add it all up it is worth it. Even when both myself and Graham were in full time work. (Before I got sick) we couldn’t afford a new car. My cars (As I was the only driver then) were usually second hand and pretty old. We’d end up having to fork out loads of money for MOTs and repairs. And I had to pay seperately for Break Down Recovery. I had built up a 10 year no claims bonus on my insurance, but even that was an extra expense.
Why Do We Need A Car?
When I first got sick in 2016 we already had a motability car for Star. She’d had surgery on her spine and was too ill to go to school for 11 months. The criteria changed for being accepted for a car and we no longer qualified for Star. She’d recovered from her spinal surgery, but the condition that caused it was still present. However, because she could walk more than 20 metres the car was taken away.
At the time we didn’t mind. I was the only driver and I had been unable to drive for two months anyway, so the car was just sitting there. We would have been sending it back as soon as we’d got around to it, but I was still hopeful of recovery at the time.
Then I was loaned a wheelchair from a friend and I started being able to go out again. We soon learned how difficult it was getting on buses with a wheelchair, especially ones full of pushchairs and prams. Travelling was a nightmare. We even went on holiday by train, the holiday had already been booked and paid for before I got sick, so we didn’t want to waste it. The journey involved two trains, all our luggage and three young children. It wasn’t enjoyable.
It got to the stage where I didn’t want to leave the house, going anywhere at all was a pain. Long times in my wheelchair where causing even more pain. After six months I also realised that I was not going to recover.
My First Adapted Car
When we qualified again for a Motability car I went to see about getting on with hand controls so I could drive again. We had a Skoda Yeti which had a push and pull hand control with a little indicator on the top, so I could do everything with one hand. This left only one hand to steer, so I was provided with a knob to put on the steering wheel which made it much easier to turn.
It took a while to learn how to drive it, and we had some freedom back for a while. At the same time Graham was learning to drive as well.
Giving up Driving
I drove the yeti for a few months but when Graham got his licence I handed the wheel over to him. I barely drove again, not only did I never really get used to hand controls, I found it painful to drive. And although I was given the go ahead to drive on my medication, the letter states that I should do so only if I felt I was able. Which was not very often.
When it was time to replace the Yeti we decided not to have adaptations on the Kuga and I gave up driving. This made me feel much sadder than I expected and kind of took the shine off receiving our new car. It didn’t help that the new car is manual when the Yeti was automatic. Graham was so used to driving automatic it took him a couple of weeks to get the hang of it.
Getting used to the Kuga and not driving
I’m feeling a little more happier about it now. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30, up to that point my ex husband had done all the driving and I was quite happy just being a passenger. When I was single again I decided that it would be nice to drive myself and passed my test after just a few months of lessons. It seemed I was a natural. I loved driving and I’ve clocked up many, many miles over the years I was behind the wheel. Giving up was hard, but I know it’s the best choice really. Ironically, the last time I drove the Yeti was to give my ex husband a lift earlier this year.
Now I’m back to being a passenger, and Graham is getting used to driving the Kuga. It really is a lovely car and so comfy. Mabye I’ll drive again one day, but for the next three years I’m just going to be chauffered.
If you would like to know more about the Motability scheme you can visit their website. You can also visit The Big Event which is held at the NEC every year. Another exhibition at the NEC for lots of information on disability (including cars and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) you can visit Naidex for free. There is also an excellent guide to Electric Vehicles and Accessibility here.