Welcome to Part 3/3

The outcome of an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment

This is the 3rd instalment of a series of articles explaining the entire process of an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment. Before reading this article, it is recommended that the following articles are read in order to obtain a detailed understanding of what is involved.

P1. The Off-Road Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment explained
P2. The On-Road Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment explained

There are several outcomes of an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment. Each outcome depends on a combination of the client’s medical condition and the results of the off-road and on-road Driving Assessments.

The first outcome: is a “pass outcome”. This outcome is when the Occupational Therapist assesses that the person’s medical condition does not impact on their ability to drive safely. The decision is made when the Occupational Therapist assesses during the on-road assessment that the person’s medical condition and/or any deficits noted during the off-road assessment do not impact significantly on their driving ability. When this outcome occurs, the Occupational Therapist will document this in their report and forward a copy of the report to the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) and the person’s referring Doctor.

The second possible outcome:“prescription of vehicle modifications”. This occurs when it is assessed by the Occupational Therapist that the person does not have the physical capacity to utilise or complete one of the following driving controls:

  • Vehicle foot controls
  • Steering wheel
  • Indicator use
  • Complete blind spot checks and utilise vehicle mirrors

With this outcome, a report is sent to the RMS and to the person’s referring Doctor stating the prescribed modifications. The person’s licence is temporality downgraded to a leaner licence so that he or she can undertake driving lessons with a driving instructor. The aim of the lessons is for the person to become proficient in using the modification. 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. 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 a full licence, with the endorsement of the vehicle modification. The person is then supported by the Occupational Therapist to have their own vehicle modified with the prescribed modification.

driving assessment

The third outcome “need for further specialised driving lessons”. This option occurs when the person makes errors due to their medical condition and requires additional lessons to eradicate the errors and improve their driving performance. 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 reported errors. Once this occurs, the person will then undertake an Occupational Therapy Re-assessment. 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 is a “fail”. A fail occurs 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 and recommending lessons would be ineffective.