KUALA LUMPUR: Disabled Malaysians who wish to learn driving face numerous obstacles getting a driving licence.
This is because most driving schools in the country lack disabled-friendly facilities and the process for the disabled to learn driving is often complicated.
Unlike the able-bodied who learn to drive with the schools’ cars, the disabled are required to bring their own Puspakom-certified vehicles for training and tests.
To further add to their problems, the locations for the computerised theory examinations are often not wheelchair-friendly.
There is also a lack of experienced instructors that can teach disabled learner drivers.
Aveena Devi Krishna Kumar, 23, recently got her driving licence, but says the process was a difficult one.
“It may sound basic, but most of these locations do not even have ramps (for wheelchair access).
“People had to lift me in my wheelchair at certain spots to get to the location.
“I managed to get to a centre in Bangi for the theory exam and even that place was not wheelchair-friendly,” she said.
“The upfront cost for a disabled person to learn driving is higher compared to an ordinary person.
“The disabled would either have to buy a vehicle or find one and modify it. They would need a lot of help to get all the required documentation and approvals,” she added.
Senator Bathmavathi Krishnan said it was about time the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and other relevant authorities made it mandatory for driving schools to be disabled- friendly and have trainers for the disabled.
“The authorities should provide incentives for at least one driving school in major cities and districts to have trainers for the disabled,” said Bathmavathi, who is founder of the Association of Women With Disabilities Malaysia.
The management of driving schools said it would be costly for them to provide specially-modified vehicles because disabilities differ from one individual to another.
JPJ director-general Datuk Seri Nadzri Siron said JPJ does in fact want to encourage more driving schools to provide disabled-friendly amenities and to make the exam process accessible.
He added that some of the driving schools were located in shoplots and it may be difficult for them to make it disabled-friendly.
“But we can at least identify a few to be made disabled-friendly,” he added.
Based on JPJ’s latest records, Malaysia has 84,927 registered disabled drivers with licence.
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