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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Legal to Drive with One Arm in a Sling?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

The primary task of a driver is to drive their car properly and safely. But what if the driver has gone through an injury that led them to wear a sling? Is he still allowed to maneuver his car's wheel? Is it legal to drive with an arm in a sling after a shoulder replacement? Find out the answers below.

Technically, many motorists are still allowed to drive their vehicles with a shoulder sling. But this will depend on an everyday situation.

Distracted or inattentive driving could lead to accidents that can injure the driver, passengers, and pedestrians, especially if they are driving without airbags. If this happens, contact an injury law office near you. Distracted driving behavior, such as using your phone while driving, is restricted for traffic safety.

The traffic-related laws are different if the driver maneuvers the car with a broken left hand or right arm or after a shoulder replacement. This kind of scenario requires the driver to take a driving test to determine their driving ability. Driving with a sling could be difficult, especially when driving on the main road. But it is a must for every driver to ensure theirs and other people's safety on the road.

Are you allowed to drive with a sling

Driving with a Sling

Anyone is allowed to drive their car even with one arm in a sling. But, if they find it difficult to drive and follow the road signs, it would be better not to put themselves in that type of situation.

Suppose the driver was in an accident and is recommended to wear a sling. In that case, they should ask the doctor first whether they’re capable of driving. Medical enthusiasts could determine if one's injury could affect their driving skills. Patients who are not recommended to drive their car should look for other ways to access the road. Also, the physician will notify the driver and give them the slip showing that they are physically and mentally fit to get behind the wheel again.

Driving with an arm in a sling does not stop drivers from controlling their wheel properly. But remember that a steering wheel is not the only car component that the drivers should pay attention to. They need to control the brake, gear shift, and other controls at the same time. With a sling, are they still able to keep a good traffic environment and prevent accidents?

According to RMS (Road and Maritime Services), all drivers must have fast and easy access to different vehicle controls and keep an arm on the wheel. In that case, driving with one arm in a sling makes it impossible to operate a manual car.

Insurance is another aspect that all drivers should consider. Insurance companies will more likely investigate the possible reasons for the accidents, especially if someone was injured. If the driver’s broken arm contributes to the accident, the insurance company will not cover the expenses and the driver should reach out to an accident law office.


Paul broke his arm after getting into trouble, but he needs to drive from home to the office every day. His wrist has been broken, which affects his ability to hold the wheel. The doctor advised Paul to refrain from driving for at least one month as his situation may cause traffic accidents. Paul is still allowed to drive his car despite his doctor’s recommendation. But he will be found liable if in case he has been involved in a car accident.

Distracted Driving

Distracted or inattentive driving may lead to accidents, primarily when a driver engages in activities that shift their attention from the road. No one would want to pay lots of hospital bills. Although most drivers perceive driving as an easy and routine activity, attentive driving is still a must because of the constant changes happening throughout traffic. To avoid distracted driving, one must turn off their mobile phone, constantly adjust mirrors, avoid at least messy foods, and arrange music in locations you can access easily before driving.

There are 221 injuries and 54 deaths that occur each year caused by distracted driving. Traffic Safety Office of traffic safety estimates that most of these accidents are not reported. This is because of the law enforcement's challenge in determining distraction or the possible crash factor.

If one can't avoid driving their car, they should find an easy-to-access spot to park and access the vehicle. When driving with young passengers, teach children about the essence of showing good behavior inside a car.

Being competent and fit to drive

Becoming Competent and Fit to Drive

RMS needs to ensure that all drivers must be found competent and fit to operate their cars. For instance, senior drivers and those with illnesses need to be tested regularly to monitor their driving ability. The following are the common conditions that could impact one’s driving skills:

• Dementia

• Stroke

• Sleep disorders

• Hearing impairments

• Epilepsy

• Visual impairments, such as driving with one eye

• Psychological or neurological issues

• Heart disease

A broken arm and other conditions may affect one’s driving skills. Driving with a sling does not affect the driver’s license status, which means that they don’t need to visit the licensing authority to inform them about their broken arm. But the driver may have a problem with their license if the physician notifies the DMV about that circumstance. They might get a license citation if they had also been involved in an accident that caused a traffic stop. The same concept also goes for drivers with broken legs. Although drivers don’t have problems controlling the wheel, they may find it hard to reach the accelerator pedals and brake.

Final Thoughts

Driving with a sling is legal as long as the driver and co-pilot can control the wheel and other car functions. Although this situation does not affect the current status of the driver's license, they must ensure that they can operate the vehicle without causing road accidents. Insurance companies have nothing to do if the accident is caused by a broken shoulder’s inability to control the wheel.

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