You’ve had a terrible accident and have been left with a broken arm. You have it in a cast but it doesn’t stop you from doing most of your regular daily activities.
You realise you’re out of milk and need to head out to the shops to pick up some groceries. You have limited use of your broken arm but feel as though you can still drive safely. Even so, you wonder whether it is legal to drive with a broken arm.
Driving with a Cast
If you break your arm and need to wear a cast you’ll first need to talk to your doctor about whether you’re still fit to drive.
A cast on your arm may not impede your ability to drive, but you must be able to operate all vehicle controls and have a hand on the steering wheel at the same time. A broken arm will make driving a manual vehicle virtually impossible, unless you are able to change gears while keeping one hand on the steering wheel.
Whilst there is no law that explicitly prohibits driving a car with a broken arm, it will be difficult to meet the above requirements if you can’t use your broken arm while driving.
The Roads and Maritime Services need to be certain that all drivers are medically fit and competent to drive. For example, older drivers, or people who have a medical condition can be asked to take regular medical tests to ensure they are fit to drive.
A number of conditions, such as a broken arm, can temporarily affect your ability to drive safely. A broken arm is self-limiting which means it does not impact the status of your license. This means that you don’t need to inform the licensing authority if you break your arm.
A health professional such as a doctor should be able to provide appropriate advice as to whether or not you can drive, and under what circumstances.
A health professional will take into consideration the impact of your broken arm and your specific circumstance on your ability to complete driving tasks and meet specific driving requirements.
Taking the Practical Driver Assessment
If a health professional is unsure of your capacity to drive, they may ask you to take a practical driver assessment.
This assessment is not a test of your competency to drive, such as those which are routinely conducted by the driver licensing authorities to obtain or renew your license.
Rather. the practical driver assessment is merely a test to assess the impact of your injury on your driving skills such as vehicle handling.
It can be used to determine the scope of your driving conditions during the injured period and can also assist by determining the need for vehicle modifications if necessary.
Depending on the individual situation, the assessments may involve evaluation of:
- Your need for specialised equipment or vehicle modifications;
- Your ability to control the motor vehicle;
- Your functional status including cognitive function, physical strength and skills, reaction time, insight level and ability to self-monitor driving;
- Your lifestyle and the nature, frequency and requirement for driving;
- Your understanding and application of road law.
Steps to Take if you Break your Arm
The first thing to do if you break your arm and want to know whether you are still legally able to drive is see you doctor.
Your doctor will advise you as to whether you can drive, what restrictions or parameters you should adhere to, and whether you need to take a practical drivers assessment to determine the scope of your driving privileges.
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