OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY DRIVING ASSESSMENT
Occupational therapists are health professionals who assist people with physical, logistical, environmental, cognitive and equipment challenges resume daily activities. Some Occupational Therapists have additional qualifications to allow them to help people maintain their ability to drive safely, obtain a driver license or cease driving if a person is deemed unsafe. Occupational Therapists do not work nor are paid by VicRoads.
An Occupational Therapy driver assessment provides a comprehensive evaluation of your ability to drive a vehicle safely and independently. VicRoads is responsible for ensuring all drivers and applicants for a licence have appropriate and safe driving skills. An assessment may be necessary if you have a:
- Current medical condition(s) or disability and you would like to obtain or retain a driving licence
- Change in function due to a physical injury such as a head injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, general deconditioning, illness, disability, or a psychiatric condition that may affect your driving
- Change in thinking skills since you first obtained your licence
It is important that you do not resume driving before obtaining medical clearance from your treating doctor and an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment if required.
NOTE: It is the individual’s responsibility by law to notify VicRoads if you have a serious, permanent or long-term condition that may affect your driving. Failure to do so may affect your insurance cover. It is also illegal to drive if medication influences your physical or thinking capacity. Please discuss this with your doctor.
DRIVING ASSESSMENT – THE DRIVER REHABILITATION PROCESS
Obtain a Medical Assessment
A VicRoads Medical Report is required to be completed by your treating Medical Practitioner before an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment can occur. You can download the medical form required from the VicRoads website: www.vicroads.vic.gov.au.
The Medical Practitioner is required to disclose medical conditions that may affect your safety whilst driving. If you have eyesight problems, you may be required to provide an eyesight report prior to the assessment. Your doctor will discuss with you medications you are taking and the impact of your medication upon driving.
The VicRoads Medical Report and any other relevant information must be sent to VicRoads Medical Review, who will decide if an Occupational Therapy driving assessment is required. The details are below:
VicRoads Medical Review
PO BOX 2504
Tel: 9854 2407 Fax 9854 2307
VicRoads Medical Review may request further information, medical reports or specialist opinions. VicRoads Medical Review will send a letter to you advising of their decision and if an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment is required you can contact STEPS to make an appointment. You may be advised not to drive until the assessment has been completed.
The Occupational Therapy Assessment
The Occupational Therapist at STEPS is registered with VicRoads as an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessor. The assessment consists of an Off-Road and an On-Road assessment. These will take place on separate days.
The Off-Road Assessment takes approximately 1 to 1½ hours to complete. Your medical and driving history and needs are discussed. Road law knowledge, eyesight, physical, sensory, cognitive skills and reaction times are tested. Plans are then made for the On-Road assessment including if any vehicle modifications are required. It is important to clarify any concerns you have about driving prior to the On-Road assessment.
*Need to bring: Driver’s Licence, glasses, if worn for driving or reading, and a list of current medications to this appointment.
The On-Road Assessment
The On-Road Assessment always takes place in a Driving Instructor’s car with dual controls. In some circumstances the Driving Instructor’s vehicle may have modifications required for the assessment. The duration of the drive is about 45 minutes on a predetermined route. The emphasis is on skills related to safe and independent driving. Occasionally more than one assessment may be required in order to provide recommendations for return to driving.
*Areas of assessment: Observations, planning, judgement, and road law knowledge application as well as vehicle handling skills and your ability to drive with modifications (if applicable).
Possible Outcomes of Assessment
Immediate feedback will be provided following the On-Road Assessment. A range of recommendations may occur:
- Resume driving with no conditions on your licence
- You may require vehicle modifications to enable driving safely
- You may be required to have lessons (driver rehabilitation) to improve skills or familiarise yourself with modifications. You may be required to have an on-road reassessment to ensure you have achieved a safe standard of driving. This will incur more costs.
- You may require a conditional licence to drive i.e. modifications or to drive within a specified distance from home.
- Your driving is unsatisfactory and unsafe VicRoads may suspend, cancel or refuse your licence.
The Occupational Therapy Driving Assessor’s report is forwarded to VicRoads Medical Review for approval. VicRoads Medical Review will then send a letter to you to advise if recommendations have been approved, and of any changes to licence status, or if further reports or information is required.
You cannot resume driving until VicRoads Medical Review have provided approval in writing.