Driving and getting out and about
Getting out and about is important because it lets you carry on with your life and continue to do the things you enjoy. For some people it is about using public transport while for others, it is about being able to drive, both of which are key elements to maintaining your independence.
It is important that all drivers are aware of the legal position regarding disability and driving. Failure to adhere to the legal duties can lead to penalty points, disqualification and fines.
Contacting the NZTA – why and when you should do so
In NZ, there is a legal duty for driving license holders to inform the NZTA (NZ Transport Agency) when they are aware of a “relevant” or “prospective” disability that could affect ability to drive. This is to protect you, your passengers and other road users.
If you have had a positive diagnosis of Huntington’s disease and are symptomatic, you must inform the NZTA in order to comply with the law.
People who are at risk of Huntington’s disease are not obliged to inform the NZTA of their risk status as long as they remain free of symptoms.
Similarly, people who have been given a positive test result but are presymptomatic are not obliged to inform the NZTA of their risk status. However, when symptoms of Huntington’s disease begin to develop, they must inform the NZTA.
Speak to your HD Specialist, your GP, and your family about your options. You can also contact the NZTA here for more information.
GPs and doctors are responsible for informing patients of their medical condition and may advise patients to stop driving. However, the onus is on the individual to inform the NZTA. Only in very exceptional circumstances it is possible for a doctor to inform the NZTA without a patient’s consent.
Check your insurance policy – you may have to tell the insurance company about factors that increase your risks when driving.
Failure to disclose relevant information to your insurance company may result in refusal to cover you in the event of an accident, invalidating your insurance cover.
2. Public Transport
If you have had to inform the NZTA and give up your license, or if you don’t drive, it is a good idea to check out the local public transport services. You can also check if there are family members or friends who can take you places in their car.
Buses, trains, and taxis
Find out what community transport is available, including buses, trains, and taxis.
E.g. In Auckland, the Total Mobility Card gives you discounted fares for taxis and public transport – contact AT service here to find out more.
There are also several transport providers such as Driving Miss Daisy who operate for the Total Mobility scheme in most regions throughout New Zealand.
Find out what services are discounted in your region and get further information here
Apply for Mobility Parking permits for anyone who gives you a lift regularly to help with parking and access. More details are available here.
Avoid using public transport at peak times – it will busier and usually costs more. Off peak is generally quieter and cheaper.
For those who find themselves getting tired easily or are having issues with walking/balance, think about using a wheelchair for longer journeys. Train stations, airports and larger shopping centers will have people on hand to help.
Contact your HD Specialist for more information. We can help you to find out more and to take your next steps, whether you are a driver or are using public transport.