WHAT IS A MEDICAL DRIVING ASSESSMENT?
Occupational Therapists look at the impact of disability, illness or ageing on a person’s medical fitness to drive – making recommendations about if and when they can resume driving, as well as any conditions that might be placed on their licence to ensure their safety on the road.
It is not a driving licence test.
Who should have one?
People are referred for any number of reasons. Common examples include:
- Head injury
- Parkinson’s Disease
What is the difference between a medical driving assessment and a standard driving assessment?
This is a common question when people compare the cost of a medical driving assessment versus a standard driving assessment offered by driving schools.
The standard driving assessment is about improving your driving: if it’s been a while since you passed your test, if there have been rule changes, etc. It takes about 60 minutes and a driving instructor will make you aware of areas you need to improve on and help you with risk reduction strategies.
A medical driving assessment looks at the impact of an injury, disability or the ageing process on your ability to drive and your safety on the road. It is conducted by a specialist occupational therapist (OT), with some input from a driving instructor. The process involves an off-road assessment to check your physical, thinking and decision-making abilities and an on-road assessment checking your medical fitness to drive. The assessment takes 2-3 hours.
What will I need?
- A car - use your own, provided it is insured and roadworthy, or use the driving instructor’s car (for an additional fee)
- Current licence
- Relevant letters from your Doctor or the NZTA
- Glasses, if required for driving
- A list of any medication you are currently taking
What does a medical driving assessment involve?
OTRS medical driving assessments are conducted by one of our specialist occupational therapists. There are two components to the assessment: we usually start with an off-road assessment in our office, which may take up to two hours. After that, we'll take you for an on-road driving assessment.
1. The off-road assessment
- Takes about 40-60 minutes
- Is completed in the assessor’s office, or your home
- Checks your physical ability to operate a vehicle
- May include a short memory test.
We use the off-road assessment to check your physical, thinking and decision-making abilities. The therapist is likely to ask you:
- Where you normally drive
- What type of car you drive
- Whether your driver’s licence is current
- If you have any physical problems that may affect your driving, such as limited movement, strength or co-ordination
- Whether there are any problems with your vision.
It's a comprehensive assessment of:
- Vision (basic screening)
- Physical function such as range of movement, strength, sensation and co-ordination
- Movement and decision making times
- How your mind understands what you see
- Knowledge of road rules and signs.
2. The on-road assessment - drive
- Takes about 40-60 minutes
- Is completed with a professional driving instructor and occupational therapist
- Will include usual driving environments and is usually undertaken in your own car
- Is NOT a driving licence test.
We use the on-road driving assessment to check the impact of disability, illness or aging on your medical fitness to drive.
What happens during the drive?
During the on-road assessment, you will be accompanied by a trained instructor and an OTRS occupational therapist.
The driving instructor will sit beside you and give directions about where to drive and when to turn.
The occupational therapist will be assessing your medical fitness to drive.
The assessment includes a range of driving situations such as high and low speed zones, controlled and uncontrolled intersections, parking and manoeuvring.
It will also include situations that you would normally face when driving in your local area, such as the local shopping area and suburban back streets, and may include the motorway or highway if appropriate.
After the assessment
We’ll discuss our findings and professional recommendations with you.
We will also give you a written report, which will automatically be copied to your doctor. Your doctor reviews the report, and then decides whether or not he/she considers you medically fit to drive.
A copy of the report is also forwarded to the New Zealand Transport Association (NZTA) who, based on the assessment report and your medical situation, decide if any conditions should be placed on your licence.