Staying safe on the road

If you are newly injured or diagnosed, here a few things you may not be aware of:

Are you allowed to drive?

The New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) requires all persons intending to drive on NZ roads to declare themselves 'medically fit' each time they apply, renew or replace their NZ drivers license.

In most instances this simply means signing a declaration, but the following conditions may require a NZ Transport Agency medical certificate, which can be completed by your Doctor:
  • Strokes
  • Nervous or mental disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures, fits, convulsions, epilepsy
  • Serious injuries (eg, head or spinal injuries)
  • Visual disturbances (eg, cataracts, double vision, glaucoma)
  • Cerebral vascular accidents/disease
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Any other condition that may affect your ability to drive safely, including fatigue, disabilities and conditions such as dementia
If you have existing vision problems, you will also have to prove that your eyesight meets the required standard of being able to drive safely. You can do this by either having this clarified by your Doctor on a medical certificate or by undergoing the basic eyesight screening test at an NZTA licensing agent.

Lastly, it is worth applying caution when taking medications, especially new ones. A medical professional can discuss ways in which medication may affect your reasoning, energy or other cognitive abilities, and will ensure you are confident about making the right choices.

The full text on NZTA requirements for drivers can be found here


Parking Permits

If you experience any of the following, you may qualify for a CCS Disability Action 'Mobility Parking Permit':

  • unable to walk and reliant on a wheelchair
  • reliant on crutches, walking sticks, walking frames 
  • unable to walk more than 200 metres without assistance because of the nature/severity of your condition
  • If you have a temporary disability such as a broken leg you may be able to get a short term mobility permit for up to 12 months 
A Parking permit allows you to park in any of the following marked disability spaces at no or low cost so long as your permit is clearly displayed in your car windscreen.

  • accessible car parks (outlined in yellow and displaying the wheelchair symbol)
  • standard car parks and metered spaces for longer than stated times
  • time-restricted zones, e.g. P30 for longer than stated times, as set out in local bylaws

A short-term permit, valid for up to 12 months, is available for an application fee of around $35 
A long-term permit, valid for up to five years, is available for an application fee of around $50

The application form is divided into two sections. Part A is to be completed by the person applying, and Part B is to be completed by your medical practitioner. 

Full details can be found here


MedicAlert Bracelets

If you are unable to speak, and in need of immediate medical assistance, a MedicAlert bracelet provides all the information medical personnel need, including:

  • access to your medical history and records through MedicAlert
  • all medications you are taking
  • any allergies you have 
Medic Alert is internationally recognised so you will protected wherever you are. 

Full information on MedicAlert can be found here


Vehicle Modifications

If you feel that you might require modifications to your vehicle in order to drive safely, you are best to access the Enable New Zealand driving assessment service. This service can:
  • test your driving ability on the road
  • give advice on the controls and adaptations you need for access, seating, and to drive safely and in comfort
  • evaluate your muscle strength and range of movement.
 
All private vehicles can make the following modifications:
  • steering and secondary control aids
  • left-foot accelerators
  • clutch conversions
  • additional car mirrors
  • wheelchair stowage equipment.
  • Modifications that require inspection and certification

 If you're deaf, a great tip is to fit additional rear vision mirrors and ensure you make good use of both side mirrors to help you detect vehicles that use sound and lights, like emergency vehicles
.

The following list however require certification and inspection to ensure they are road-safe:
  • hand controls for braking and accelerating
  • handbrake devices
  • seatbelt modifications, harnesses and special seating
  • joystick and foot steering (a four-way joystick can be used to steer, accelerate and brake)
  • infra-red remote control systems, which mean you can get in the vehicle and drive from a wheelchair with complete independence.
You will need to use an approved Certifiers, through one of the organisations below: