A-Z Clinical Solutions

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The Keys to Independence

Depending on who I ask, a licence to drive is often reported as an essential part of living in the community independently and often deemed part of a person’s sense of self. An adolescent will tell me that “getting their L’s” is a rite of passage with the subsequent transition to a provisional licence the key to social freedom. At the other end of the scale, a senior driver will state that driving is central to their ability to surviving at home. Ask a Mum, and they will tell you that it is impossible to get the groceries, school runs and extracurricular activities all done without a car. Most people believe that you get your licence at the age of 16 and that it is then ‘yours’ forever after. But in fact, like all things in life, it isn’t that black and white!

Chronological age has little to do with driving safety. Some people are unsafe driving due to ill health in their late 50's, some people are perfectly safe to drive in their 90s, while there are some that are injured in their early 30’s. Simply put, it is about function not age! Similarly, it is often assumed that adolescents with physical disabilities or sensory diagnoses such as Cerebral Palsy or Autism are unable to learn how to drive- but this is simply not true.

One of the services provided by A-Z Clinical Solutions is an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment. An occupational therapy driving assessment is a range of tests that review an individuals’ visual, motor and cognitive capacities to determine their fitness to drive a car (or heavy vehicle). Following the completion of the “off road tests”, the individual goes with the OT and a qualified driving instructor in a dual control car to assess in a real time their competence with safe driving. At the end of the 3 hours, the individual is advised of the recommendations that will be made to the Roads Maritime Service.

The recommendations are specific to the individual but can be generally classed into one of four categories;

  1. The individual may resume driving on their current licence - or in the case of a learner, to commence learning to drive.
  2. The individual may resume driving but restrictions are required on their licence to maintain their safety - such as they may only drive an automatic vehicle, or may only drive at certain times of the day or a certain distance from the home.
  3. Prior to returning to driving, the individual may need formal lessons or vehicle modifications be installed prior to returning to independent driving. A wide range of modifications are available to compensate for most deficits - such as amputation or spinal cord injury. It is important that vehicle modifications are prescribed by a driver trained occupational therapist and installed by an engineer registered with the licensing authority. Driving with modifications that are incorrectly prescribed or fitted can be dangerous and is illegal.
  4. The individual is not considered safe to return to driving and therefore the recommendation is made for licence cancellation.

The reasons why people are referred for a Driving Assessment are many and varied, but if this is something you think you, or someone you know might need, give me a call and we can discuss your situation further.

Nicole Young

A-Z Clinical Solutions
Occupational Therapist
B.App.Sc(OT), Grad Cert (QIHC),
AHPRA Registration No: OCC0001714357

Email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
M 0428 821 215| F (02) 4027 5078 | W www.a-zclinicalsolutions.com