Epilepsy

With The Feet God Gave Me: Alternatives To Driving

“The longest journey begins with a single step, not with a turn of the ignition key.” — Edward Abbey

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When I officially became diagnosed with epilepsy, in December of 2008, I was behind the wheel of my car at the time when the seizure occurred. Losing consciousness, I drove off of the rode, through a front yard, jumped two concrete curbs, through two fences and slammed into a large snow covered pine tree. Thank God my only injury had been whiplash.

Following my epilepsy diagnosis, I was worried, wondering if my drivers license would be taken from me. However, equally, I was fearful of ever wanting to get behind the wheel again. Fearful of having a seizure again behind the wheel and fearful of never wanting to injure anyone being behind the wheel. I thanked God that no one else had been hurt in the accident that led to me being officially diagnosed with epilepsy. I soon discovered that I would not have my license taken away from me. Yet, deep down inside, I knew that the right thing to do for myself and others, would be to set aside driving until my seizures could be better managed.

My car looked like a squashed can of Coke-A-Cola anyhow. Luckily a very nice man offered to purchase it and repair it to give to his son as his very first car.

What You Need To Know For Your State

Each individual state regulates driver’s license eligibility of people with certain medical conditions. The most common requirement for people with epilepsy is that you be seizure free for a specific period of time and submit a physician’s evaluation of your ability to drive safely. Another common requirement is that you periodically submit medical reports, in some states for a certain amount of time and in others for as long as you carry a drivers license.

Do you know your states driver information? If not, your local DMV will provide you with the information that you need to know. Your neurologist may also have the information you need to know in this regard.

To Drive Or Not To Drive?

While some states do give the green light and choose not to take away drivers licenses, driving is a right a privilege. You are responsible for the lives of those in the car with you and those around you. Seizures can be completely unpredictable. Just because you didn’t have a seizure yesterday, or an hour ago, doesn’t mean you won’t have a seizure today as you place that key in the ignition. However, there are some individuals with epilepsy who do in fact still choose to drive.

For some, they do wait the allotted time suggested by their neurologist and DMV for the safety of themselves and others which is commendable. For others, they are taking a great risk and unfortunately some have found themselves in awful, regrettable situations, hurting themselves and others in a multitude of ways.

Great Alternatives To Driving

If unable to drive due to your epilepsy diagnosis, it’s not the end of the world! The world has actually gotten a whole lot broader with alternatives! It’s vital for your journey to have a wide variety of alternatives to the automobile. What are these alternatives? To some of you they might be quite obvious I’ll bet! You may very well use some of them every day. But to others who are in need of a few extra ideas, here are some great alternatives to consider that may be useful:

1. Buses

This is probably the most obvious choice. The bus can either be a great way to get around or a nightmare, depending on where you live. Unfortunately, in many locations there has been a comparatively small investment in bus transit compared to the money that goes into the infrastructure used by cars.

One way to make the bus more appealing is to create more reserved lanes and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. If buses have to spend too much time using the same lanes as cars, they just end up swallowed up by the mass amount of cars during peak traffic times and there’s very little benefit to taking the bus. But if they can bypass all that, a lot more people will use them.

2. Rail (Light, High-Speed, Underground, etc…)

Another big player in public transit, rail can be more pricier than taking the bus, but it does offer other benefits, such as not sharing the road with cars and it is easier to electrify (Greener operation).

Ideally, all cities of a certain size would have light-rail/subways within the city limits, and high-speed rail would link big cities so that people and freight could use it as an alternative to airplanes and trucks.

A national survey of Americans indicates broad support for more investments in public transit (which means mainly buses, and various types of rail), and a National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) indicates that there’s been a 23.5% rise in the share of trips done using transit.

3. Walking

“That’s Obvious” you must be thinking.  However with this alternative, the issue must be examined from a completely other view. The choice is not whether to walk or not to walk, because we’re just a bit limited in speed and distance and many people can have all the motivation they would like, if they live a far distance from where they’re going and they have to cross many freeways to get there, let’s face it, it’s most likely going to be quite the challenge.

The choice is, whether it’s possible to change where you live to make walking more realistic. Living closer to your job, family and friends is the best way to lower the amount of time you spend in a car. For the most part, this means a combination of walking, biking, and public transportation.

The decision that is needed to be made is to create cities and neighborhoods so that it is easier to walk. Cities are becoming more adaptive to this thankfully.

4. Bicycles

Who doesn’t like to ride bikes? This is another alternative you may have guessed, yet so much can be done to get ahead. It’s well known that bikes can play a major role in many major cities. Yet bike culture is only starting to take off in most areas, and we are far from the much talked about critical mass. Some cities are investing more in bike infrastructure (things such as safe bike parking, bike boulevards, bike-sharing programs, and physically separated bike lanes), but it’s still for the most part minor.

Here’s hoping that other officials in the United States and around the world will pay attention and that more can be done to make bicycling more accessible.

NOTE:

To learn more about the options within the Bicycles alternative, click the highlighted links to watch selected videos!

Questions For The Reader:

  • Do you have alternatives to add to the list?
  • Which alternative are you currently using?
  • What advice might you offer to someone diagnosed with epilepsy who has lost their ability to drive?

Always be inspired to seek out alternatives to driving and know that it is not the end of the world should you choose not to drive or should you need to set aside driving for a period of time. The world is a wide and wondrous place. Explore it in its variety of ways it has to offer and enjoy it.

Enjoy life. Every moment of it.

I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!

2 Comments

  • Lisa

    While I can appreciate this article, I have also seen many, many posts on Epilepsy forums where an Epileptic who chose to use an alternative method of transportation have a seizure and are hurt and or robbed. One person shared her story that she was exiting an underground train (I believe she was in the U.K.) when she had a seizure. She was not only hurt by the doors opening/closing on her, but she had been robbed. By using alternative public methods of transportation, you’re literally dependent on strangers to keep you safe unless you have a close friend or family member who is able to go with you.

  • Hope Ashton

    My daughter doesn’t ride bike because of possible seizure while riding bike. This can be very dangerous also to the epileptic riding

    I used to take her for appts, w pork and store. But now thanks to Uber, she has a better quality of life because she can control her transportation and has more freedom in her schedule rather than my schedule controlling hers.

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