Find out the facts about safe driving with axial SpA (AS)

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

The law requires you to tell the DVLA about any condition that may affect your ability to drive safely

The advice given by the DVLA about axial SpA (AS) is that:

  • If your axial SpA (AS) does not affect your safe driving you do not need to tell the DVLA about your axial SpA (AS)
  • If your axial SpA (AS)  does affect your safe driving you will need to tell the DVLA
  • If you are unsure whether your axial SpA (AS) affects your safe driving you will need to check with your GP or rheumatologist who will be able to advise you

The DVLA would typically consider that your axial SpA (AS) was affecting your safe driving if you need adaptations to your car to be able to drive safely. This would things such as extra mirrors. You should also inform the DVLA if you feel you can only safely drive a car with automatic transmission.

Help with Safe Driving

Driving Mobility are a network of 16 independent organisations covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who offer professional, high quality information, advice and assessment to people with a medical condition which might cause issues with safe driving.

The aim of these organisations are to give help and advice on driving safely. They do not want to stop people driving. You should be aware that, with the appropriate adaptations and driving techniques, even someone with a completely fused neck can be assessed as safe to drive.

For people with axial SpA (AS), they might offer advice on fitting additional mirrors, driving an automatic rather than a manual and on devices to help with getting in and out of cars.

You can be referred for an assessment by the DVLA or you can call your local centre to make an appointment for an  assessment. If you are referred by the DVLA you will not be charged but if you contact them independently there is a charge.

Advice on driving without pain

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have produced a general guide to driving more comfortably. You can download the guide.

Motability Scheme

The Motability Scheme enables disabled people to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair by exchanging their mobility allowance.

Even if you don’t drive yourself, you can apply for a car as a passenger and propose two other people as your drivers.

You can apply if you have 12 months or more of your DLA or PIP award remaining. If your award is not renewed during the full length of your chosen scheme your car will need to be returned.

Through the contract hire scheme you can lease a new car supplied by a Motability accredited dealer for at least three years. Insurance, routine servicing and breakdown assistance are included. You may need to pay for the fitting and removal of any adaptations. At the end of the period, the car is returned to Motability Operations who operate the car schemes under contract to Motability.

Blue Badge Scheme

The Blue Badge scheme allows people with severe walking disabilities to park in restricted areas.

All the information you need on applying for a Blue Badge can be found on the Gov.UK website.

There’s no legal right to appeal if you don’t meet the eligibility conditions for a blue badge. But the Department for Transport does recommend that local authorities have an appeals procedure in place. If you think you have been incorrectly or unfairly refused a Blue Badge, you can ask for a review of the decision.

You should be given a detailed written explanation of the reasons why your application was refused. You should explain to your local authority why you believe its decision is wrong. Let them have any evidence to support your case.

Read more