Why do I need a Driver Assessment?
You have been referred for a driver assessment because your health/functional status or medical condition may impact your ability to drive. By law and transport authority standards, you must meet certain criteria to continue driving with a medical/functional condition.
Driving a car safely requires many physical and cognitive abilities. Sometimes, a medical condition will impact these abilities, and therefore may influence someone’s ability to drive a car safely.
Many injuries, disabilities, and medical conditions have the potential to affect someone’s ability to drive a car, but that does not mean that all people with medical conditions are unable to drive.
What does a Driver Assessment Involve?
Our role is to assess the specific physical and cognitive abilities you need to perform while driving, and ensure that your medical condition does not impact on your ability to drive a car safely, and in accordance with transport authority standards.
A Driver Assessment includes two main parts:
- Off-Road Assessment: an assessment of your physical and cognitive capacities (thinking, attention, information processing, and memory). In most cases this is conducted with you at your home.
- On-Road Assessment: an assessment of your ability to drive a car. Conducted in our driving instructor’s car.
What Kinds of People might need Driver Assessments?
Any person who has a medical condition, or has had an injury that is likely to cause changes to their physical or cognitive capacity on a long-term basis may be required to participate in a driving assessment. Examples include:
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Injuries to the hands or upper limbs that result in a loss of function in that limb (ie. loss of range of motion, strength, sensation, or coordination)
- Injuries to the lower limb (s) that result in a loss of function in that limb
- Chronic pain conditions
- Congenital conditions like Cerebral Palsy
- Anxiety and other mental illnesses
- Stroke / Brain Injury
- Cognitive impairment and dementia
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Visual changes
What is a Passenger Assessment?
Sometimes, people who have medical conditions are unable to ride in a vehicle due to positioning requirements, equipment, or pain. These people may not have goals of driving themselves, but wish to be able to go out into the community with friends and family. We assess your vehicle needs as a passenger, and can make recommendations for appropriate vehicle modifications or set-up that will help improve your access to the community.
What are the possible outcomes of a Driver Assessment?
An occupational therapy driver assessment can have multiple outcomes. For some, it will lead to a re-instatement of their full C – Class license. For others, it will mean re-instatement with certain conditions applied to the license (for example, use of vehicle modifications). If new vehicle modifications are needed, an individualised rehabilitation program and re-assessment will be required to ensure adequate learning of new controls prior to re-instating the license.
In some cases, however, a driver assessment will indicate that someone is not safe to drive, and is unable to be rehabilitated. Therefore, unfortunately, the result can be cancellation of that person’s license.
What if the assessment results in my license being cancelled?
There are a lot of options for transport that have been created, because the fact is, many people are unable to drive a car. We realise the impact that losing a license can have on a person’s sense of independence and freedom, and can sometimes have an impact on family as well. Therefore, we also provide ongoing referrals to community services that can assist with transitioning to using new transport methods, and ensure that you are able to access the community as needed.
Who pays for my driver assessment?
The funding source for the assessment will differ depending on your situation. Insurance agencies including CTP, WorkCover, or the NDIS may fund the assessment if you qualify. In cases where your medical condition is unrelated to an accident, work, or pre-existing disability, you may be required to pay the fee privately. If you have sustained a permanent disability, there are funding schemes that will subsidise the cost of the assessment as well as vehicle modifications/adaptive equipment and training (ie. VOSS). For privately paying clients with private health funds, mobile EFTPOS / HICAPS / credit card facilities are available.
Where does the assessment happen?
In most cases, the off-road component of the assessment will take place in the comfort of your home. The on-road (driving) component takes place in your city/community, in our driving instructor’s vehicle.
Can my carer / family member / friend attend the assessment with me?
During the off-road assessment conducted at your home, we are happy for your carer or family member to observe. During the on-road assessment, due to the complex nature of the assessment we need to complete, no family/friends/carers are permitted to ride in the car.
What if I don’t have a current license?
You MUST have a current and valid license to participate in a driver assessment. This means, you may have a class C or C-LRN (learner’s). If your license has been cancelled by your GP (medical suspension), he/she will need to upgrade your license to a C-LRN for the purpose of the assessment. If you are new to driving completely, you will need to have a learner’s permit prior to the assessment.
If you have a current legal suspension due to traffic violations, you are NOT permitted to do a driver assessment until the duration of the suspension term is carried out.