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Driving assessments

Driving Ability Program

For most of us, driving is an everyday part of life. Driving is vital to independence, self-confidence and normal everyday activities such as work, school, transporting family members and running errands.

Factors such as age, a change in vision, current health conditions or a neurological event can all interfere with our ability to drive safely. Reaction times can be increased substantially without us even being aware of it, and a traumatic event that happens to us can affect our safety behind the wheel. The Regions Hospital Driving Ability Program was developed to help assess your current driving capabilities and regain the confidence and knowledge needed to safely travel in the community.

Regions Hospital - Rehabilitation Institute - Driving Kathy

Our program is often helpful for people with the following circumstances:

  • Stroke
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Amputation
  • Teen drivers with disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Senior driver

Our program was developed by occupational therapists from the Regions Hospital Rehabilitation Institute who have vast experience performing clinical driving assessments. The staff also has specialized training in driving instruction and rehabilitation. One of the therapists is a licensed Minnesota driving instructor and has obtained certification as a driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS).

Regions Hospital Driving Ability Program can assist you, your family or physician by assessing pre-driving skills and on-the-road driving skills. We will provide recommendations regarding your ability to safely operate a vehicle or whether alternative community mobility options need to be explored. Upon completion of the program, the evaluation results and recommendations will be shared with you, your family and referring health care provider.

Regions Hospital - Rehabilitation Institute - Driving simulator

Services provided

Pre-driving clinical assessment

The pre-driving assessment addresses driving history, needs and current abilities with activities of daily living and functional mobility.

The following skills are formally assessed:

  • Vision
  • Cognition
  • Reaction time
  • Physical skills

A computer-based driving simulator is also available to assess driving skills, behaviors, habits and self-awareness. The pre-driving clinical evaluation is completed prior to a behind-the-wheel evaluation.

Behind-the-wheel evaluation

  • Assessment of basic vehicle operation
  • On-the-road driving in light to moderate traffic
  • City and freeway driving individualized to the patient’s established or desired driving routine and needs

Behind-the-wheel instruction & training

  • Training in basic driving skills and remediation skills
  • Training in use of adapted driving equipment such as manual hand controls, spinner knobs and left foot gas pedal

A mid-size sedan equipped with necessary safety equipment is used for behind-the-wheel assessments.

The driving assessments are performed in the Occupational Therapy Department at Regions Hospital by therapists who have specialized training in driving instruction and rehabilitation. A physician’s referral is necessary to participate in a driving assessment. The Clinical Assessment is generally covered by insurance but behind-the-wheel assessment is typically self-pay.

The Regions Hospital Driving Ability Program is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to perform behind-the-wheel assessments and training.