Driving with Disability
Driving is Important!
Driving a car is an essential activity of daily life in developed nations. Not only does it allow independent mobility for work and social activities, it is a powerful symbol of independence and personal identity
Driving is hard!
Driving is, however, a complex task involving integration of visual, physical, cognitive and psychosocial skills in a rapidly changing environment.
Medical conditions can affect driving ability and safety
Any loss of function in these areas as a result of a medical condition, accident or the ageing process may impact a person's ability to drive safely.
You must let your license authority know about your medical condition
In Australia national legislation requires all drivers to notify the licensing authority in their state of "any long-term or permanent injury or illness that affects his or her safe driving ability" (Austroads, 2016). This law imposes penalties for failure to report and drivers may be liable under common law if they continue to drive knowing they have a medical condition potentially affecting driving.
In Australia the national medical guidelines "Assessing Fitness to Drive Commercial and Private Vehicle Drivers" (Austroads, 2016) directs decisions made by health professional regarding fitness to drive for people with a wide range of medical conditions. These guidelines state that a practical driving assessment may be necessary to determine fitness to drive for some conditions. In Australia and many other countries occupational therapists who specialise in driving conduct these assessments.
In Australia, once the state licensing authority is informed of the medical condition; the driver is required to submit documentation from a medical practitioner indicating they are medically fit to drive. In some cases an occupational therapy driving assessment will be required by a doctor or licensing authority to determine fitness to drive following illness or disability.
Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment
An occupational therapy driving assessment can help you return to safe driving where possible
An occupational therapy driving assessment is a comprehensive functional assessment that includes both off and on road components. This type of assessment is considered the gold standard for determining fitness to drive internationally. It usually takes 2-3 hours. The off and on road components can be done on separate days.
An OT driving assessment includes;
Off road Assessment
An off road assessment involves screening of vision, physical function, cognition
in the context of driving. Standardised assessments are used by Rehab on Road. The need for vehicle modifications is established in the assessment and these may be given trial on road.
On Road Assessment
The practical on road assessment
is approximately 50 minutes and is conducted in a dual controlled vehicle with a professional driving instructor to give directions and monitor safety. The occupational therapist observes the effect of driving habits as well as deficits related to the driver's condition to estimate the potential for driving. Results are discussed with the client and family and communicated to the licensing authority. A remediation programme may be provided. Standardised on road assessments and procedures are used by Rehab on Road.
for a list of services providing occupational therapy driving assessment)
Some drivers may need to attend a driver rehabilitation programme following their assessment
This may involve;
- Learning to drive with specialised vehicle modifications
- Learning driving techniques to compensate for difficulties identified
- Attending a desensitisation driving programme for drivers with phobias or anxiety
- Preparing to undergo a Roads & Maritime Services (RMS) driving test
- Undergoing an upper limb fitness programme (for high level spinal cord injury)
All driving lessons are conducted by qualified driving instructors with training and experience in rehabilitation. Dual controlled vehicles are used with a wide variety of modifications. We have access to vehicles with specialised technology for drivers with high level needs.
In a limited number of cases, where injury has occurred in the work place or via a motor vehicle accident, the cost is born by a third party - but in general the cost is born by the driver.
If an injury has occurred in the workplace or in a motor vehicle accident an insurer may accept the cost of the assessment under CTP or WorkCover. You will have a rehabilitation provider or case manager with whom you can discuss your eligibility.
Rehab on Road is a registered NDIS service provider. For more information on the NDIS click here: https://www.ndis.gov.au
- Life Time Care and Support Scheme
The Lifetime Care & Support Scheme provides treatment, rehabilitation and attendant care services to people severely injured in motor accidents in NSW, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
People who are eligible for the Scheme will have a spinal cord injury, moderate to severe brain injury, multiple amputations, severe burns, or will be blind as a result of an accident.
The Scheme began for children under the age of 16 injured in motor accidents from 1 October 2006 and began for adults from 1 October 2007. Click on this link for more information; www.lifetimecare.nsw.gov.au.
- Job Access
Job Access provides assistance for people with a disability looking for support and assistance with work. Assistance is provided in every stage of the employment process. Job Access may be willing to fund vehicle modifications to assist in employment. Contact www.jobaccess.gov.au for further information.
- Other Organisations
Occasionally other organisation such as volunteer organisations, educational organisations with whom a client is already involved, charities, and societies for specific medical conditions may agree to fund the assessment or modifications.
Location of Assessment
Rehab on Road is able to conduct driving assessment at the driver's home, work place or in an office setting.
Rehab on Road Costs
Please contact Rehab on Road for an individualised proposal.