When a person has a physical condition or disability impacting on their skills to safely manoeuvre a motor vehicle, the OT will send the report to the RMS and to the person’s referring Doctor. The report will clearly specify the vehicle modifications the person requires. The person’s licence is temporarily downgraded to a leaner licence, and they need to undertake driving lessons with a driving instructor. The aim of the lessons is for the person to become proficient with using the modifications. Once the person feels confident with the modification in all driving environments, they will undertake an RMS Disability Driving Test. This test is carried out by RMS staff, not the Driver Trained OT. The test takes the form of a Provisional licence test (P’s test), with the primary difference being that the person drives with the prescribed modification. Once they pass this assessment, their licence is reinstated to its previous status, with the endorsement of the vehicle modification. From that point on, the person must always drive with the prescribed modification. The person can also be supported by the Occupational Therapist to have their own vehicle modified with the prescribed modifications.
The third outcome
Another potential outcome is that the OT determines the “need for further specialised driving lessons”. This option occurs when the person makes errors due to their medical condition and requires additional lessons to improve their driving performance and reduce their errors. The Occupational Therapist will recommend that they undertake a specific number of lessons with a rehabilitation driving instructor, with the specific aim to rectify the observed errors. The OT may formulate a specific lesson plan for the driver. After the lessons, the person will then undertake an Occupational Therapy Re-assessment to determine if their driving skills has improved. If the person can demonstrate that they have rectified the errors and can drive safely, the Occupational Therapist will be able to ‘pass’ the person and they can continue to drive as they were previously.
The final outcome
The last potential (and most unfortunate) outcome is a “fail” of the assessment. This is established when the person makes ongoing errors that he or she is unable to show improvement in. A fail also occurs when a person makes a critical error. A critical error is any error where the driving instructor must physically intervene and take physical control of the vehicle to prevent a motor vehicle accident that is the result of errors or action from the driver. If the person has a condition that is degenerative in nature causing the person to have poor insight into their driving errors or impact on their ability to take in feedback and modify their errors, the Occupational Therapist may be required to cancel that person’s licence. This occurs when the Occupational Therapist is of the clinical opinion that lessons will not improve the person’s driving performance and there is nil potential for improvement. Usually, this extreme result occurs with severe cognitive conditions or deficits, as the person’s medical condition will not improve.