Driving Assessment Frequently Asked Questions
An Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment focuses on how an individual’s medical condition or disability may impact on their ability to drive or learn to drive safely and legally.
Assessments are conducted by qualified and registered Occupational Therapists with post-graduate training in Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment and Rehabilitation. An assessment is often the first step to your driving journey, and from here we work together towards your goal of independent and safe transport.
An Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment might be required for:
- Novice drivers – to determine driver readiness and explore supports for learning to drive, such as specialised driver training
- Experienced drivers living with medical conditions or disabilities – to determine the impact, if any, on driving safety and potential for driving rehabilitation
- Individuals requiring vehicle modifications for driving or as a passenger, whether getting set up with an initial vehicle or upgrading the modifications
- Identifying alternative transport options for continued independence with community travel when driving may not be appropriate
The assessment involves two parts – a clinical (off-road) assessment and a practical (on-road) assessment. Each part takes 1–1.5 hours and can be completed on the same day or on different days, depending on the individual’s needs.
The clinical assessment involves the following:
- An interview about your medical and driving history
- A physical assessment for movements relevant for driving and associated tasks (such as getting in and out of the vehicle, and loading items into the vehicle) to determine any physical considerations
- Cognitive and sensory assessment for skills relevant to driving and learning
- Vision assessment
For experienced drivers, the practical assessment is completed with the Driver Trained Occupational Therapist alongside a qualified Driving Instructor with experience in rehabilitation. A dual controlled vehicle is used for safety, and assessments can be conducted in an automatic or manual vehicle.
Vehicles with appropriate vehicle modifications can be arranged also – chat to us about your needs and we will do all we can to source an appropriate vehicle for you. The practical assessment starts with some time to get familiar with the vehicle in a quiet setting, before proceeding onto a standardised route that can take up to about 45 minutes. This ensures the assessment is as objective and fair as possible.
The assessment route will cover most features of everyday driving, including varied speed zones, controlled and uncontrolled intersections, roundabouts, stop signs and give ways, and multi-lane roads with lane changes. We know that experienced drivers can pick up some habits, so feedback may be provided during the drive as appropriate, providing the driver with an opportunity to improve their driving safety within the assessment.
For new/learner drivers, the practical assessment is also completed with the Driver Trained Occupational Therapist alongside a qualified Driving Instructor however takes the form of a driving lesson depending on the learner’s stage of driver tuition. This assesses the learner’s driving capabilities and potential challenges with learning to drive to guide implementation of a driver training program.
The outcome of the assessment is always discussed with you afterwards, along with any further recommended actions such as driver rehabilitation programs or specialised driver training. This will be followed by a report which is sent to the Driver Licensing Authority and any other relevant parties as agreed to by you.
Outcomes are tailored to you and your needs. We work with you to help you achieve your transport goals. Some possible outcomes are:
- Maintain current licence status or determine fit to hold a learner’s permit
- Recommended to complete specialised driver training, with support to explore NDIS funded options for driver training
- Recommended to complete a short course of driver rehabilitation lessons before a repeat on road assessment
- Recommended to drive with vehicle modifications/driver aids with a series of lessons to use the modification and support to explore funded options for modification of a personal vehicle
- Suspension of licence to allow further medical recovery, with potential for reassessment in future
- Recommended to cease driving and consider transport alternatives. This decision involves the individual’s primary medical practitioner and the Driver Licensing Authority and is made in the interests of the individual’s safety.
You will need to bring along any items required to drive, such as glasses and your driver’s licence or learner’s permit. Please let us know ASAP if you do not have an active licence or learner’s permit so that we can apply for the relevant permits. Please ensure you have taken any medication as indicated by your licence conditions and take note of our alcohol/drug policy for driving assessments.
You may also wish to bring along any relevant documentation/reports for the Occupational Therapist to review.
We need to use a dual controlled vehicle during the assessment for safety. We have a pool of automatic and manual vehicles available and will give you time to become familiar with the vehicle in a quiet area.
If you drive with modifications or have any particular vehicle requirements, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Please let us know as soon as possible if your licence has expired or if is suspended, as we will need to apply to the Driver Licensing Authority for a special permit to conduct the practical assessment.
The assessment will determine what supports are recommended to enable you to learn to drive. If appropriate, this may include a recommendation for specialised driver training through the NDIS. The decision to fund specialised driver training is at the discretion of the NDIA, taking into account information and recommendations provided by the Driver Trained Occupational Therapist.