Easy drive for disabled

2015-03-28 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG driving school has passed its first disabled student in its all-new disability friendly car — a first for the city.

City Driving School instructor Vikash Maharaj said he got his little Hyundai Atos specially fitted with disabled-friendly hand controls after receiving numerous calls from clients needing such services.

The first of its kind for Pietermaritzburg, the automatic transmission car has been fitted with a handlebar alongside the steering wheel, similar to that of a motorbike, that controls the accelerator and brakes.

The steering wheel also has a little knob fastened to it, which makes turning with one hand easier.

“We are trying to assist the disabled to live the lives they choose to and fulfil their dreams. To see the enjoyment in someone’s eyes when they drive for the first time is priceless,” Maharaj said.

He promised that if the demand for this service rose, he would fit more of his cars with this function.

“We had lots of calls from the disabled asking if we offer lessons. After Lindiwe came to us, we had to do something about it,” he said.

He was referring to Lindiwe Zuma, a Pietermaritzburg woman who is wheelchair-bound with both her legs amputated.

Zuma (35) approached the driving school last year and, with the help of Maharaj’s instruction and his new car, she obtained her driver’s licence last week.

“It was the first time I ever had the chance to drive a car by myself. I was so nervous and scared but I grew confident over the months,” Zuma said.

She explained that she had been trying for years to find a Pieter­maritzburg driving school that offered this service, but was unsuccessful.

“These services are only offered in Durban and Johannesburg. This is a very good thing for Pietermaritzburg.”

Zuma started with the driving school last year and persevered through two failed tests before she was able to pass.

“This car was so much easier to drive and I started slowly. Now my main goal is to get my own car and travel at my own will.”

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