Driving assessments for older drivers

It’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (December 3-7), and Jill Linder, occupational therapist, has some important information regarding driver evaluations and resources for families.

With aging comes a decline in vision, cognition, flexibility and reaction speed, all of which can impact safety behind the wheel. Cognitive impairments place older adults at a higher risk for accidents and unsafe driving practices. Specifically, impaired processing speed, executive function and spatial abilities are correlated with poor driving performance.

Many older adults will self-impose driving restrictions and cessation when limitations arise. Older drivers and families should seek the advice of physicians regarding safety concerns. If there are questions regarding safety behind the wheel, physicians will often recommend a driving evaluation.

Driving evaluations

A driving evaluation is an assessment to determine whether or not an individual has the ability to safely operate a vehicle. The evaluation is conducted when an individual has a medical condition that may impact the skills that are essential for safe vehicle operation.

Who is a good candidate for a driving evaluation?

Anyone who has a medical condition that may impact his/her ability to safely operate a vehicle. Common medical diagnosis include:

  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Visual impairments
  • General age related changes
How does the program work?

The Driver Rehabilitation Program consists of a two-part evaluation. 

1. Pre-driving evaluation – The evaluation is completed in the outpatient therapy clinic on the Parkview Hospital Randallia campus. The occupational therapist evaluates the patient’s vision, strength, mobility, coordination, reaction speed and cognition to determine capabilities and potential concerns or needs for adaptive equipment.

2. On-the-road evaluation – In this second phase, the client drives a car provided by the clinic. The vehicle is equipped with a dual brake to provide additional safety for the driver, the evaluation and other roadway users. The behind-the-wheel assessment is completed by an occupational therapist who is certified by The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists. The driver operates the car in a variety of traffic environments so the evaluator can create an accurate assessment of capabilities under various conditions. During the on-the-road evaluation, the client can try out adaptive equipment that may assist with a safe return to driving.

Following the evaluation, the occupational therapist reviews the results and recommendations with the client. A detailed report is then sent to the referring physician. The physician reviews the report and makes a determination if an individual is safe to resume driving.

Schedule an appointment

A physician’s prescription is required to enroll in the Driving Evaluation. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (260) 373-3202.

The Parkview Driver Rehabilitation Program is located on the ground floor of Parkview Hospital Randallia (Entrance 2).

Parkview Outpatient Therapy
2200 Randallia Drive
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805
(260) 373-3202

 

Additional resources

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website highlights various topics for older drivers and family members during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. These topics can be accessed through the AOTA website.

AARP

The Hartford

AARP – Talking points

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