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Living in America without a driver's license?


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#1
jtg22

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This is an issue that has been bothering me a lot recently, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice regarding it.

I'm visually impaired and am unable to obtain a drivers license in America. For most of my life, I've lived in my home town in Louisiana or Alabama (for college and an internship I work at). For the past 9 months, however, I have been studying abroad in Japan. I have enjoyed my stay here immensely, but will have to return home to America in August.

The amount of personal freedom I've had in Japan has been wonderful, but the thought of losing it all once I return home greatly disturbs me. Essentially, I will be coming from a country in which I can go anywhere (assuming I can buy a ticket) to cities in which I can't even go to a coffee shop without someone else's assistance. I'm not really sure that there is much I can do to improve my situation at my college or internship cities, but what about other places in America? How is public transportation elsewhere?

If anyone has gone through a similar experience as this, I'd enjoy hearing your opinion.
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#2
sari

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I think living in a city or a suburb would offer better opportunities for public transportation, thus making you more independent. I assume in Japan you're living in a city? I live near Washington DC, which has a subway that goes out to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and they also have buses. I live in a city of about 100,000 people, and we do have a bus service that goes to all the local shopping centers, malls, etc. I think in the U.S., however, many communities are designed around people having cars and driving to where they want to go. I think that's partly due to the size of our country - we have so much space, it's easier to build sprawling suburbs than it is in a smaller country, so people are more concentrated and transit becomes a necessity because it's not practical for everyone to own a car.
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#3
dsenette

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i'm from southern Louisiana (where from in LA if you're ok with answering? we've got a few swamp rats crawling around here)...and depending on which city you're in....it seems as though most people are either driving without a license or are completely blind to begin with ESPECIALLY in new orleans or outside of baton rouge (kidding of course)

i'd agree with sari....if you're in the boonies or far away from a major city it's going to be hard to find reliable public transportation (buses or otherwise)...but if you're near a major city it will be easier...and...well...as far as subways...you're out of luck for that one in LA or MS
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#4
**Brian**

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I have Cerebral Palsy and I live in Vermont. I am lucky that there are Public Transit options that I can use. When I went to college in Burlington VT, there was the bus, and I used it to go almost everywhere I wanted, and for those things I needed to get that I couldn't use the bus for, I had friends with Cars and trucks to help me get around.

In 1990, it was determined that I could drive, but after being tested to see what was going on, I was told that my reaction time and my visual acuity was the problem, and not my strength. I had 20/20 vision according to the examiner, but it was basically the fact that if someone said there was a stop sign at 50 feet, that I may not see the stop sign until it is too late, or if someone is ahead of me and stopped quickly, I may not be able to react fast enough. I could use hand controls, but I had to make a decision that was a hard one for me at the time - The decison was that my safety and the safety of others is paramount, and that my driving would endanger others. I have been told that I could learn to drive, but its more then just using hand controls, its the way I would respond, and I don't wish to put anyone in danger.

There are advantages to not driving, and these are, in my opinion:

1. You don't have to pay for your Registration for your car/truck.
2. You don't have a monthly car payment
3. You don't have to pay to get your car Inspected
4. You have no upkeep on your vehicle, so you don't have to pay for parts or labor when it breaks down
5. You don't have to spend Over $5.00/gallon for Gas

I have family members who understand what I go through not being able to drive. They would help me do whatever I needed if the need arised - I would rather them do the driving, and not worry about getting somewhere. Being a disabled individual myself, I have seen public transit systems at their best and at their worst.

Sari says:
I live near Washington DC, which has a subway that goes out to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and they also have buses. I live in a city of about 100,000 people, and we do have a bus service that goes to all the local shopping centers, malls, etc


I have been to Tacoma Park MD myself, and have seen the bus system there. Seems like they are well in tune with what is going on. Most of the time while I was there, my brothers Eric and Mike would drive us around. The only thing I worried about was making sure that I had my Disabled Parking Plackard, which makes any vehicle I am riding in able to use disabled parking spaces. I was there in MD for a week, as my brother Eric Graduated College - had one of the best times in my life :) :)

Rural areas seem to have more difficulties with transportation issues. With the rising costs of Gas/oil/Food, etc, Public Transporation seems to be the way to go for many of us. If you have an option of using public transit, then it would be to your benefit. Of course, being in rural LA may be a problem however.

When I was in Tallahassee FL, I was introduced to thier local transit systems. One is for those who use buses on fixed route stops, and one was for the disabled. This vehicle would come directly to the person's house, pick you up, take you where you need to go, and bring you home. The Taltran system in Tallahassee allowed me to use a pass that says I am disabled, and pay a reduced rate.

Have you considered moving closer to a city? Living out in the suburbs can be a challenge. even in Vermont, there are rural areas that are screaming for a way to get tranportation, but the money is the issue. Sari is correct, the closer you are to a city, the better off you are when it comes to this, but you have to do your homework to determine how the system works, so you can use it effectively. Don't be afraid to call someone and ask questions, because using public tranportation will help you become more independant if you know the ropes :)

Good Luck - and take it from me, not driving a car is not the end of the world :)

Brian
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#5
jtg22

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Thanks for the advice. I'll look more into the public transit stuff when I'm back in America.

i'm from southern Louisiana (where from in LA if you're ok with answering? we've got a few swamp rats crawling around here)...and depending on which city you're in....it seems as though most people are either driving without a license or are completely blind to begin with ESPECIALLY in new orleans or outside of baton rouge (kidding of course)

i'd agree with sari....if you're in the boonies or far away from a major city it's going to be hard to find reliable public transportation (buses or otherwise)...but if you're near a major city it will be easier...and...well...as far as subways...you're out of luck for that one in LA or MS


I am originally from Monroe, Louisiana. Currently, I go to college in Auburn, Alabama and have an internship in Huntsville, Alabama.
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#6
dsenette

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I am originally from Monroe, Louisiana.

in other words...you're from mississippi :)
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#7
silverbeard

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Com'on, give us poor yankees that live north of 190 a break. Monroes as close to Texas as it is to Mississippi.
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#8
NovaWorld

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If I were you, I'd consider moving to a place with a really good public transportation agency.

Where I am now, San Francisco, there's a bus or streetcar within about 5 minutes walk of any single point. Just about.... It's really convenient. They've installed GPS trackers that allow you to go online or call a phone number and ask when the next bus going in x direction will be at y, so you don't have to go and wait forever. It really makes life a lot easier, living without a car that is.
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#9
cheyenna345

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My friend has something where he is as tall as he can get but looks like hes 6 even though he is 14. It stinks for him but you know what. you just have to get through this. I hope you have some good friends with you. And as for the driveing thing, everyone was put in this world for a reason. You never know, you could be the first blind person to go on the moon!

goodluck! - :) i hope that makes you feel better
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#10
Captain Zero

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I can safely say you want to avoid Los Angeles. It has the worst traffic combined with the worst mass-transit system of any American city, hands-down. That combination is reaching "perfect storm" proportions.

Boston, New York, and the majority of the north eastern corridor are you best bets. Just avoid the south west.

Edited by Captain Zero, 10 July 2008 - 02:12 AM.

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