Driving

Driving safely and competently on the roads requires skills of high complexity. In the worst stages of ME (cfs) most people will stop driving as they are simply too unwell to do so. The total energy output and muscular exertion required in driving and parking a car may trigger unpleasant symptoms such as painful muscles and exhaustion.

Helpful Hints

Keep outside appointments to an absolute minimum, such as medical and other practitioner appointments only.

Ask a carer, family member, or friend to drive you to important appointments.

Red Cross has volunteer drivers who will provide transport to hospital appointments. Need to negotiate a mutually suitable date and time with them, as they often arrange multiple pickups, and sometimes may not be able to return, in which case you would need to make your own arrangements for the return trip.

Some local councils provide a community transport service. This service provides transport for people to attend social events, medical appointments, and ‘one off’ trips. Need to register for this service prior to booking, there may also be a cost involved.

The Multi Purpose Taxi Program provides half price taxi fares for people who have a permanent disability which prevents them from independently accessing public transport. Refer Resources Guide.

Volunteer drivers are available in some areas funded under the HACC Program for medical appointments, etc. Contributions to cover cost of petrol may apply. Refer Resources Guide.

Local Community Health Services may also provide community transport. Contact your local Service for information.

For those who are severely ill, you need a doctor’s referral to access non-essential ambulance transport to medical and hospital appointments.

When your condition has stabilised and you feel able to drive again, re-check the driving skills you will require for safe driving, such as:

  • co-ordination
  • concentration
  • memory
  • energy
  • reaction time
  • judgment
  • precision
  • adequate eyesight
  • adequate hearing
  • strength and muscle tone
  • information processing
  • defensive driving skills
  • updated knowledge of road rules
  • you may like to add to this list

If you have not been driving for some time, it is advisable to refresh your driving skills prior to going out on the roads. This will highlight areas where you will need to lift your driving skills to a more competent level.

Contact the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) or your equivalent State body for a refresher driving course if needed. There is also a charge for this.

Drive around locally at first to gain confidence again before venturing further afield.

The Disabled Persons’ Parking Scheme provides permits for parking in disabled parking bays. Apply at your local council. The Application form, which needs to be signed by your doctor, needs to be carefully filled in, noting that if you have been diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis it is written out in full, and not just abbreviated as ME/CFS. Permits are granted to persons with a permanent disability, who do not have the ability to walk distances with rest breaks, and minimal walking may endanger their health.

The Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme assists rural Victorian residents with costs when travelling more than 100 km (one way) to the nearest medical or dental specialist. Contact the Department of Human Services. Refer Resources Guide.

Resources

VicRoads Medical Conditions and Driving

Multi Purpose Taxi Program
Freecall: 1800 638 802
www.taxi.vic.gov.au

Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme
Department of Human Services
Phone: (03) 9616 7280 (head office)
Or your regional DHS office
www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disability

Volunteer Drivers funded under the HACC Program available at:
Eastern Volunteer Resource Centre: (03) 9870 7822
Monash Volunteers: (03) 9562 0414
Knox Volunteers: (03) 9729 9499
Manningham Volunteers: (03) 8841 3041

Royal Automobile Club of Victoria
Phone: (03) 9790 2211
www.racv.com.au