Driving Assessment for Individuals with a Handicap

A handicap is any condition (physical, mental or emotional) that interferes with an individual’s normal functioning. Medical conditions that can significantly affect an individual’s ability to drive safely can include:

  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Memory problems
  • Brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Spinal injury
  • Physical injury
  • Mental health issues, e.g. anxiety
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Congenital conditions
  • Amputations

If you have a serious or long-term medical condition, injury, illness or disability, you must consult with your treating Doctor or Specialist before starting to drive. It is a legal requirement that the RMS is notified of your condition, and failure to do so may result in fines, legal prosecution or loss of insurance.

To determine whether your medical condition or handicap affects your ability to drive according to RMS standards, an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment can be completed. Once you have been referred to Modified Driving Solutions, our Occupational Therapists (OT) will assess your ability to drive safely, and determine if you require any driving aids or vehicle modifications.

The Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment consists of two parts:

  • Off-road Assessment: The OT will attend your residence and conduct a physical, cognitive and visual screen, as well as a medical history. This assessment will identify any deficits you have due to your medical condition or handicap that affects your driving ability. For physical injuries or disabilities, the OT may also determine any vehicle modifications or aids you require for the On-road Assessment.
  • On-road Assessment: You will drive a vehicle with dual controls, with any specified modifications or aids (identified in the Off-road Assessment) installed. The OT and a Driving Instructor trained in driver rehabilitation will conduct the assessment. The assessment will take place in your local area and will aim to encounter various driving and traffic conditions. The assessment will focus on the deficits noted from the Off-road Assessment, and may also pick up other issues or deficits. The assessment will determine if your medical condition or handicap impacts on your ability to drive safely, and if modifications are required to continue driving.

handicap driving

Possible outcomes of the Driving Assessment

  • The assessment determines that you have the visual, cognitive and physical capacity to drive safely according to RMS guidelines with no requirement for driving aids or modifications. Your licence will be upgraded to a full unrestricted licence.
  • The assessment determines that you have the capacity to drive however will require additional lessons with a Driving Instructor trained in driver rehabilitation. If significant errors were identified from the driving assessment, the OT may recommend that you need driving lessons that will aim to improve on these deficits. The lessons will have specific goals that you must achieve, and your progress will be monitored by the OT and Driving Instructor. The amount of lessons needed varies between individuals. For some physical disabilities such as spinal injury or significant amputations, a driving aid or modification may be necessary – please see this page for more information (link page).
  • The assessment determines that you do not possess the visual, cognitive or physical capacity to drive safely according to RMS guidelines, and additional lessons will not be of any benefit. Your licence will be cancelled.