This article is a follow up of the previous article the “off-road assessment explained”. As mentioned previously, an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment is divided into 2 components. The “off-road component “and the on-road component”. We previously covered what the off-road assessment entails, and now the focus of this article is to explain what is involved regarding the on-road assessment.
The on-road assessment is the practical component of the driving assessment. This involves the person actually driving a vehicle. During the on-road assessment the individual is introduced and made familiar to the vehicle that they will be driving. The assessment in conducted in a dual control vehicle to ensure the safety of all people involved. The assessment is completed with an Occupational Therapist and a Rehabilitation Driving Instructor present. Typically, the assessment will commence with the person positioned in the driver’s seat, the Rehabilitation Driving Instructor in the front passenger seat, and the Occupational Therapist in the rear left passenger seat.
The assessment will typically commence in quiet streets with nil to limited traffic. This allows the person to become familiar with the vehicle and complete any necessary ergonomic adjustments. Once the person reports that they feel comfortable in the vehicle, the assessment will progress to more complex traffic situations.
The format of the assessment is that the driving assessment takes a pre-determined route that is typically 60 minutes in duration. This may deviate depending on the person’s need for driving and if they hold a private or commercial driver’s licence.
During the assessment the Occupational Therapist’s role is to assess if any of the deficits, or the person’s diagnosed medical condition, is impacting on their ability to drive. To make this determination, the assessment must encounter specific driving conditions and situations, where the person is asked to complete various driving manoeuvres. These are stated below:
Varying speed limits
Lane changes on multilane roads
Controlled and uncontrolled intersections
Shared driving areas
Use of indicators
Breaks, accelerator and steering wheel control
Stop and give way signs
Entering and exiting the kerb
Blind sport and mirror checks
Hazard identification and response
During the assessment the Occupational Therapist assesses if the person’s medical condition impacts on their ability to perform any of these tasks. It must also be noted that if the person makes what is deemed a critical error, the Occupational Therapist must assess the test as a fail. A critical error is any error where the driving instructor is required to physically intervene by either taking control of the steering wheel or utilizing the dual control brake to prevent an accident that is due to the person’s driving.
After the on-road assessment the Occupational Therapist will consult with the driving instructor and render an outcome, and discuss the results of the assessment with the person. There are several outcomes of a driving assessment that range from pass, lesson plan and fail. These outcomes will be covered in a later article.