Common medical conditions that may require vehicle modifications to drive safely include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Spina bifida
- Limb amputations (including amputations of more than 3 fingers in one hand)
- Spinal cord injuries or disease, including paraplegia and hemiplegia
- Severe loss of function in one or both legs
- Severe loss of function in one or both hands
In NSW, the process for assessing driving with vehicle modifications is a thorough one to ensure that the person can drive safely and be as independent as possible.
What is involved when assessing driving with vehicle modifications?
The process for driving with vehicle modifications can be divided into two categories: drivers with a current licence and new drivers (learner drivers). In either situation, the first step is for the person to obtain a medical review, report and medical clearance to drive and undergo an Occupational Therapy (OT) driving assessment. It is to be noted that a doctor has the authority to recommend to the RMS that a person should not be driving due to their medical condition, thereby recommending a cancellation of the person’s licence.
If the person’s doctor determines that they require an OT driving assessment to decide fitness to drive and specify modifications, they may refer the person to a particular OT service, or the person may have to search for a suitable service themselves. OTs who perform these specific assessments have completed specialised training, so not all OTs have this recognised qualification. An OT that performs these assessments is called a Driver Trained Occupational Therapist, and they have the authority to prescribe vehicle modifications so the person can drive in accordance with legal standards. Driver Trained OTs work in collaboration with Rehabilitation Trained Driving Instructors. These specialised driving instructions have also completed a qualification to work specifically with people with medical conditions and train people to use vehicle modifications.