Format of the on-road assessment
Generally, there will be three people in the car for the assessment – the client, the Rehabilitation Driving Instructor and the Driver Trained Occupational Therapist. Sometimes, the person’s carer, interpreter or support person may also be present (this can be arranged prior with the OT). 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.
To allow the person some time to familiarise themself with the car, the assessment usually commences in quiet streets in residential areas with limited traffic. The person is given the opportunity to make any ergonomic adjustments to the car (e.g., adjust seating, mirrors) and become accustomed to the vehicle controls. Once the person feels more comfortable and confident operating the vehicle, the assessment will proceed to moderate and complex traffic environments. There are three categories of traffic for the assessment:
- Mild traffic: single lane roads with speed limits up to 50km/hour (typically residential areas)
- Moderate traffic: single and multi-lane roads with speed limits up to 60km/hour
- Complex traffic: single and multi-lane roads with speed limits above 70km/hour
The format of the assessment is that the driving assessment takes a pre-determined route that is typically 60 minutes in duration. The driving instructor will give instructions to the person and the person’s ability to follow directions is examined. There will also usually be a component where the person will be asked to self-direct to a familiar place (e.g., travel from local shopping centre back home). This looks at the person’s working memory. All forms of traffic are encountered during the practical assessment to certify that the person is safe to drive in varying and changing traffic situations.
This format may deviate depending on the person’s need for driving and if they hold a private or commercial driver’s licence. For example, a person with cognitive impairment may struggle when driving in unfamiliar environments and their need for driving may be to only access their local shopping centre and visit family or friends nearby. Thus, the driving assessment can be restricted to 5km from home, and this restriction would be endorsed on their licence.