Blog post -
Driving and living with a disability, by Mike Jones
Mike passed his driving test in 1982 at 17 years old and his motorcycle test in 2004. He became an IAM RoadSmart Observer in early 2022.
In 2006, everything changed for Mike. He suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage, which also resulted in meningitis and hydrocephalus. Following surgery, despite problems with mobility and balance, he began to recover. "I had to have a shunt placed in my head." "My balance and mobility were hit, but things were going well in recovery. I was never going back to work or doing my hobbies of climbing and mountaineering, but I was able to do a lot."
Mike was forced to swap his motorcycle for one with hand controls. “Adventure bikes were my thing i.e., Honda Africa Twin. When things progressed medically, I needed more stability, so I moved to a trike, a Can-Am Spyder with controls modified to hand controls. Unfortunately, I had my last ride earlier this year as the getting on and off, getting ready etc. has become too much. Had a great last ride to Devil's Bridge and Elan Valley - fab”
A decade later, things took a downward turn for Mike. “Unfortunately, things went 'pear-shaped' in 2016 with complications of the original haemorrhage resulting in a rare progressive condition, which means I'm seizing up. My balance and mobility are decreasing, and I now spend my time in a wheelchair." Mike does drive an adapted car with hand controls, which also has a hoist fitted at the rear for his electric wheelchair. He hopes to adapt his car further.
So, how did joining IAM RoadSmart help?
In many ways, says Mike, “The Advanced Course, whether for motorcycle or car, was great because it taught me new skills and techniques which I feel made me safer. The people who helped and taught me were excellent, giving good advice at a pace to suit me. I progressed to Observer because I wanted to give something back and in doing so help others. I have been actively involved in our local group. I used to go on the monthly ride out which was always very good, being well planned and seeing new places and roads.”
Recommending IAM RoadSmart
“If you drive or ride with any form of disability, then doing the Advanced course will improve your skills and techniques and make both much more enjoyable as a result. You will come across excellent people at IAM who will WANT YOU to succeed
Being disabled does not mean you need to miss out on such a great course. You have the opportunity just like everyone else!”
Mike has now stepped down from being an IAM RoadSmart Observer as he can no longer get safely in or out of other people’s cars. So, what of the future? Well Mike is now working with IAMRoadSmart’s Chief Examiner Richard Gladman, to help develop policies and protocols around disability and the Avanced course at a local and national level.
* Source NHS - A subarachnoid haemorrhage is an uncommon type of stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain. It is a serious condition and can be fatal.