Driving with Sure Grip Driving Chair

What is a Driver Evaluation?

A Driver Evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s abilities as it relates to safe driving. It is the first step for all other services. The evaluation provides information regarding a person's capabilities and challenges for operating a motor vehicle. The process and testing varies depending on the reason the person is being seen. An aging driver evaluation is different from a novice driver. Someone who needs vehicle modifications requires an even different approach including what vehicle and/or modifications are needed.

Upon completion of the Driver Evaluation, detailed recommendations are made and provided in a comprehensive written report. Recommendations may include next steps related to a license or permit status, skill development for deficit areas, referral to other specialized team members (e.g. a low vision optometrist or neuro-optometrist), a preliminary prescription for vehicle modifications, or recommended behind the wheel training.

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)
Entering Vehicle Next to Van

Where does the evaluation occur?

Evaluations are conducted at the Driver Rehabilitation Services office located in McLeansville, NC. just east of Greensboro.

Who provides the driver evaluation?

Driver Evaluations are provided by one of our licensed Occupational Therapists devoted solely to the specialty practice of driving.

What differentiates a comprehensive driver evaluation from a clinical only or behind the wheel only driver evaluation?

Comprehensive evaluations include both clinical and behind the wheel assessments. Both are needed in order to correlate a person's physical, visual and cognitive skills critical to safely operating a motor vehicle with behind the wheel functional abilities. A comprehensive evaluation is completed by an occupational therapist with advanced specialty training. This health care professional is skilled in recognizing how changes associated with a medical condition affect behind the wheel performance. The therapist will tailor the evaluation and intervention plans for each individual.

Programs that provide clinical only testing make recommendations without having seen the person drive a vehicle to observe how a deficit area impacts safety. Although clinical results often reveal potential concerns, the impact of these concerns should be verified by observing actual driving performance. Some clinical only programs prescribe adaptive equipment without the person trying the recommended equipment. This can be unsafe or may prove to not offer the best solution for the user. Clinical only programs may offer a driving simulator in leu of driving an actual vehicle. This may lead to findings and recommendations that do not match performance in an actual driving environment.

Programs offering behind the wheel assessments only without first completing clinical evaluations are generally staffed with driving instructors who are not medically trained to detect physical, visual, cognitive, or behavioral challenges that impact vehicle control, perception, judgment and decision making behind the wheel. This type of behind the wheel testing typically looks only at an individuals’ ability to physically operate a vehicle. Other necessary driving skills such as route planning, visual scanning, divided attention, and high level decision making is often overlooked. Recommendations often do not take into consideration a person's health challenges, impairments, or progressiveness of a condition.

Where can I find more information about driver evaluations?

Driving Safety Guides Information from The Hartford Foundation
The Association for Driver Rehab Specialists
American Occupational Therapy Association