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
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.
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