What is an OT driving assessment?
As an intellectual disability is a medical condition that can potentially affect driving ability, it is mandated by law to declare the condition to the RMS. In order to assess if the person’s intellectual disability is impacting on their driving performance, they must complete an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment. This assessment consists of two sections:
- The off-road assessment: The Occupational Therapist (OT) performs a visual, cognitive and physical screen on the person to determine any notable deficits that may result in driving difficulties. If possible, a strategy or intervention will be developed to mitigate any deficits, such as using a vehicle modification for a physical disability.
- The on-road assessment: The person drives a dual-controlled car with the OT and rehabilitation driving instructor. The aim of the assessment is to identify whether or not the intellectual disability is affecting the person’s driving. Minor mistakes, such as those resulting from being unfamiliar with the vehicle, often do not negatively impact the assessment’s outcome. However, critical errors, which are defined as those requiring the driving instructor to physically intervene (by using the emergency brake or steering wheel), usually indicate a significant deficit in driving capacity.
In learner drivers with an intellectual disability, it is often not possible to comprehensively determine fitness to drive after an initial OT driving assessment, as learner drivers are expected to make errors and having difficulties during this stage. Thus, driving lessons are often indicated and specified by the OT, and a driving plan is developed with the driving instructor. Specific driving goals are refined at each stage of the person’s progress (e.g. lessons usually start in basic traffic and progress to moderate then heavy/complex traffic conditions as the person’s dri