From time to time, I would receive some heart rendering comments from readers of this blog. First of all, I have 42 year experience as an instructor and is saddened to receive such requests from readers who are less fortunate than the majority of us.
If abled and normal bodied people, especially school boys and girls are so enthusiastic regarding securing a driving and riding license these days, can readers envisage how a 57 year old female polio patient, whose right leg is affected, feels about her dream of getting a driving license?
The wish to get a driving license is universal. It has finally led a reader of mine, a Madam LH Hoi from Klang, to write in to me for help.
For a 17 year old normal student out to secure a driving license, it is not a big problem. But for a 57 year old polio patient, it is a different kettle of fish altogether. I should know. It’s not easy, let me tell you.
Before continuing any further with this article of mine, permit me to divulge to you that I’m a very sympathetic and caring person. Being such, I will attempt my very best to assist reader LH Hoi from Klang to realize her dreams.
I am uncertain if I am capable of helping her out of the hassles of obtaining a driving license. Nonetheless, I will certainly do my utmost test. After all, if we do not render assistance to less unfortunate people, the OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya), who else do we render help to then?
In my immediate reply to Madam LH Hoi, the administrator of the Driving School Malaysia blog, who incidentally happens to my son, we advised that we shall be contacting LH Hoi through her E-mail. In fact, we have made contact with the above reader already.
My resident instructor and a very close colleague, Mr. Wong, a former taxi driver, did contact me about the above female polio’s contacting him. As Mr. Wong has lesser experience than myself in the art of tutoring special students in driving, he has therefore made it a point to contact me to seek my advice.
And as a matter of fact, I feel that it is pertinent that Madam LH Hoi be given a further insight into the hassles of securing a driving license by a handicapped or OKU person.
Most instructors in this country, can without a doubt teach or instruct but there are unfortunately not many, who are aware of the requirements and steps a handicapped person has to go through.
Therefore my article will highlight some of the requirements a handicapped person has to fulfill before making a decision to take up driving eventually.
1) The necessity to be an educated person.
Not everyone can take up a driving course these days. A handicapped person first of all, should be able to do his or her Highway Code or Undang-undang test in either Bahasa Malaysia or English. Failing which, the candidate has to opt for oral tests specially arranged for those who are unable to perform written tests.
JPJ does conduct such tests in smaller towns and Felda areas like Batu Laut, Dengkil, Jerantut and Temerloh from time to time. Handicapped and OKU candidates are advised to seek the assistance of good and reliable driving schools and institutes to assist them. There are many such entitles around. It should not be much of a problem locating them.
2) Seeking the approval of the Road Transport Department (RTD) or the Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ).
As an instructor for so many years, I’ve always held the contention that a handicapped person or OKU should ideally seek the authorities’ views prior to starting off with driving tuition and courses. It is rather certain, officers of the JPJ will provide all the necessary forms and requirements that would be needed.
Furthermore, they will also provide both the potential student as well as the instructor, all the necessary advices. The RTD will without a doubt, refer students to the relevant authorities, that is the General Hospital for a check-up.
For this, the Orthopaedic Department will be requested to conduct a thorough medical examination of the handicapped person. A certification that a handicapped person can handle a vehicle satisfactorily, is necessary prior to his or her being allowed to take up driving.
3) After securing an orthopaedic surgeon’s certificate of fitness to drive, what next does one do?
Armed with the above mentioned certificate of fitness what then does a handicapped or OKU do? The next step is to find a good instructor to teach you how to drive. I do not wish to disappoint anyone.
But it should be mentioned here that not all handicapped persons or those who suffer from polio, will be allowed to drive by the orthopaedic surgeon. Whether one is allowed to drive or otherwise depends on your physical condition that you are in.
Malaysian rules and regulations regarding taking up driving in Malaysia requires that one is capable of using his or her Right leg well. This implies that a potential student should be able to use one’s Right limb well. In Malaysia, one has to own a good right leg to enable him to step on the brakes to stop the vehicle moving. Driver is not allowed to use his Left leg to apply the brakes.
Some students ask me if they could modify a vehicles’ brakes system from the central pedal position to the left hand side of the car. Physically, mechanics and those involved in the mud guard and welding businesses have the know-how and technology to do the above job well. But, the question is, will the Road Transport Department and the Puspakom authorities allow or permit such a move?
It is my opinion that legally, to convert the brake pedals in Malaysia from its original position which is in the centre, to the left, to enable a ex-polio patient whose right leg is handicapped or weak, is Against the Law. It is to say, Illegal.
I have never heard of such a move being approved. Therefore what I am trying to imply that ex-polio or handicapped persons whose right leg or limb is not normal, will have little alternative but to find other ways to overcome this difficult problem.
What then should an ex-polio or OKU folks do if they still intend to drive?
The only rather solution which I can think of is to take steps to have your automatic vehicle converted to hand control mechanism as found in Formula One cars. There exists larger establishments in Malaysia, in the likes of Volvo and Mercedes which can convert ordinary automatic cars to ‘hand control mechanisms.
As they say, nothing is impossible. But it should be reminded that, it is going to be a costly affair. In short, it is going to cost a lot of money! Can an ordinary ex-polio or OKU patient afford what this writer has suggested? Think about it carefully before making any decision.
The above are but 4 major hindrances in the way of a handicapped or OKU attempt to get a driving or riding license in this country. With the advent of this short and yet informative article, I hope that those who are in this category of people will finally be made to realize what they have to face.