Did you know that disabled drivers represent around 5% of the driving population? But in the unfortunate result of a vehicle breaking down, research has shown some of the issues disabled road users encounter, such as being able to safely exit their vehicle, anxiety and distress.
In many ways, a person's disability is always invisible when they're in a vehicle. So, the Sunflower has partnered with National Highways, who manage England’s motorways and major A-roads, to ensure that people with a non-obvious disability feel confident, that they will receive the help they need, if they break down or need assistance.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is widely recognised for helping people with non-visible disabilities get the support they need in the public domain. In this new partnership with National Highways, the iconic Sunflower can now be displayed on vehicles, enabling drivers and their passengers to let others know that someone in the vehicle has an invisible disability.
National Highways Traffic Officers are often first on the scene in an emergency on a motorway or major A road. Displaying the Sunflower sticker, or magnet, on the rear of your vehicle will indicate to traffic officers that you may require additional support.
We spoke to Paul Pengelly, a Sunflower wearer, about the new partnership: “I have fibromyalgia along with anxiety and a personality disorder, which affects my general mobility. If a vehicle I'm travelling in, is broken down or in an accident, exiting the vehicle quickly and safely would be difficult for me.
“My anxiety in such a situation would already be heightened, and without support, I could become more distressed or agitated. Identifying my additional needs would be crucial to keeping everyone safe and preventing unnecessary distress or harm.”
“Having the Sunflower on the back of my car informs National Highways traffic officers that they should ask me what extra support I might need so that they can do their job safely while making sure that no harm comes to me, the other occupants and passing traffic.”
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower wearer Paul Pengelly can now also display the Sunflower on his vehicle thanks to the new partnership with National Highways.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for vehicles is free to road users in England and can be ordered from the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower store.
National Highways Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager Julian Horsler said: “We want all road users to feel confident that they’ll get the help they need if they break down or need assistance on our roads.
“For many disabled people our roads already provide the best travel option for them; enabling them to travel to work, go on holiday and visit family and friends. However, sometimes it isn’t the obvious barriers that prevent people from travelling independently, it can be the hidden or unknown ones that cause the most difficulties.
“To ensure our disabled customers can travel safely on our roads, we’ll continue to introduce new services, like the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for vehicles, which break down barriers and help people feel in control of their journeys.”
Damon Jowett, Head of Service Delivery at Green Flag, comments: “We’re hugely supportive of this initiative. By displaying the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower on vehicles, it will mean our recovery network are made aware that there is potential additional needs and support required for the drivers and passengers we attend to. This initiative really helps us to ensure we provide the best level of service and can meet the requirements of all our Green Flag customers.”
Our partnership with National Highways brings us one step closer to achieving our goal; for Sunflower wearers to be supported wherever they chose to visit and however they choose to travel.
If you get into trouble on the motorway, contact National Highways first, and then a breakdown provider. Use a free roadside emergency phone or call 03001235000.
You can also text National Highways for roadside assistance on 0730283600.
Tell the operator, that you are a member of the Sunflower scheme, they can make sure all the recovery and emergency services are aware that you have an invisible disability.