Guest Post: You're Permitted to the Backseat

My friend K recently got her learner's permit! We are all so excited ...and slightly terrified... as she makes the moves towards further independence. Read her account of how she came to this decision and her motivation to pursue this freedom. 

Why did I get my permit? Why did I take the first real step towards, what is possibly, the most dangerous mode of independence I could take on? I mean, especially for me with the fragility and all! Jeez, can you parents imagine what my parents are going through? Unfortunately for all of you parents, including my own, who would jump at the first chance to delay their precious cargo from getting behind the wheel, are going to literally have to take a backseat, to my future. 

For me driving me was never in the realm of reasonable options until I was 18, when I attended my first OIF Conference. At this conference, I attended a workshop specifically geared toward driving and the accommodations that were already out there ready for our eager use. Albeit, these accommodations are not always the easiest to obtain (as I’m seeing now, 6 years later). I am pleased to say that it is possible, and I have no doubt in my mind that I will drive someday, hopefully soon! All 3 feet and 7 inches of me, along with my 300 lb chair will be behind that wheel, threatening as many lives as those four wheels will allow us. Yikes!

For now, I am the proud holder of a learners permit. This is literally the key to the safe. With this tiny slip of paper, that I received after answering 18 randomly given questions, I now have the power to get behind the wheel of any vehicle, provided there is an over 21 year old passenger who has had their license for a year or more. Oh yeah, and there is the small necessity of there being the proper adaptive equipment installed in the vehicle... so that I can physically manipulate the car and make it safely do what I want. Here lies the problem for many of my physically disabled friends and I which separates us from our able-bodied permit holding peers: 
Take for instance my two younger siblings. Both able-bodied, both came of age and immediately obtained their permits, driving themselves away from the Registry of Motor Vehicles where they took that simple test. They then completed their respective time behind the wheel with a licensed driver in the car, and eventually took and passed their licensure road tests.
In my particular case, I’m going through an agency who will hopefully help me finance the the expensive equipment and modifications that I will need to gain my full driving independence. This also involves being taught to drive while using the specific equipment I’m going to need, which also is going to take time because believe it or not their aren’t that many experts in adapted driving... at least in my state.

But still, why am I going through all this? I ask myself this question all the time. I often think, why drive when you want to live in the city, where you have no problem using public transportation? Also, as much as I don’t like to admit it, I am scared of driving. It's no secret that a simple fender-bender could mean a nice long hospital stay for me.... Despite all of this, there is something bigger that keeps pushing me along: my freedom. I think this is where the motivation towards the ability to drive becomes universal:
Disabled and able-bodied alike know being able to drive to and from somewhere is one of the most freeing things in the world! I have experienced this in limited capacity while using fixed public transportation. Even though there are only so many places I can go via these routes, knowing I have full control over when I arrive and for how long I stay is one of the greatest feelings I have ever known. After a lifetime of living by other peoples schedules though, it is truly invigorating to be able to create my own. Now imagine the open road, that freedom will be just oh so so sweet.

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