What is a Driver Evaluation?
- A Driver Evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s abilities to drive whether it is following a significant injury or disabling condition or the potential to become a safe and independent driver with a disability for the first time.
- It is the first step for all other services within the field of driver rehabilitation. The evaluation provides information as to whether a person with a disability is able to operate a motor vehicle and determines what vehicle and/or modifications are needed for safe driving.
- A Driver Evaluation can also help drivers who are replacing adaptive equipment or who have experienced changes in medical/functional status.
- Upon completion of the Driver Evaluation, a preliminary prescription for specialized driver training and/or vehicle modifications is generated.
What assessments are conducted during the driver evaluation?
- Screening of a client’s medical history, driving history, license status
- Clinical evaluations of physical, visual, perceptual, cognitive and behavioral abilities
- Appraisal of driver seating needs and vehicle entry and exit needs
- Determination of needs related to transporting mobility aids such as walkers, crutches, wheelchairs or scooters
- On the road assessment in appropriate driving environments (with or without adaptive equipment as needed)
Where does the evaluation occur?
- Evaluations are conducted at the Driver Rehabilitation Services office located in McLeansville, NC.
Who provides the driver evaluation?
- Driver Evaluations are provided by Cyndee Crompton, a licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L), Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS), and NC Certified Driving Instructor (CDI). Cyndee also holds a Specialty Certification in Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM) from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and she has a Certification in Low Vision Rehabilitation from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Cyndee has 20 years of experience in the field of driver rehabilitation.
What differentiates a comprehensive driver evaluation with an Occupational Therapist from a behind the wheel driving test with a driver training instructor?
- Comprehensive evaluations include both clinical and behind the wheel assessments. Both types of assessments are needed in order to correlate a client’s physical, visual and cognitive skills critical to safely operating a motor vehicle with behind the wheel functional abilities. Occupational therapists that specialize in driver evaluations are health care professionals that have the knowledge needed to recognize how changes associated with medical conditions may affect driver safety and tailor evaluation and intervention plans to each individual.
- Programs that provide clinical only testing make recommendations without having seen the client in the vehicle to observe how a deficit area impacts safety. Sometimes deficits can be overcome with compensatory strategies or adaptive equipment. Sometimes a person will be prescribed adaptive equipment based on a clinical only evaluation without ever having tried them. This can be unsafe or may prove to not offer the best solution for the user. Clinical only programs that offer a driving simulator may reveal findings that look different in an actual driving environment.
- Programs offering behind the wheel assessments without first completing clinical evaluations are general staffed with driving instructors who are not medically trained to detect medical, visual or cognitive challenges that impact perception, judgment and decision making behind the wheel. This type of behind the wheel testing typically looks only at an individuals’ ability to physically control a vehicle. Other necessary driving skills such as route planning, visual scanning, divided attention, and high level decision making may be missed. Driving performance may not be assessed with regard to a client’s health challenges, impairments, or functional status.
Where can I find more information about driver evaluations?
Driving Safety Guides Information from The Hartford Foundation