Driving Evaluation Program: FAQ’s

Driving Evaluation Program

Why should a person have an evaluation if their license is still valid?

Although the person’s license is valid, they may not have medical clearance to drive. If they have experienced a medical change that can effect driving, the major concern is safety.  If they successfully complete the driving evaluation then a report is written with recommendations to indicate that the person has met requirements to be medically cleared for driving.  This report is sent to their referring physician and becomes a part of their medical record.

What types of medical conditions can affect a person’s ability to safely drive?

Any disorder or condition that might interfere with the alertness, strength, physical coordination, agility, reactive ability, vision, judgment, attention, knowledge, or any other skill necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.  Such conditions may be the residual effects of a single stroke, head injury, an uncontrolled seizure disorder, or poorly managed diabetes.  Complex medication regimens used to control diseases like Schizophrenia or heart disease can also have a detrimental effect on function.  It may be a progressive condition which gradually deteriorates over time, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia.  These are only a few examples of the many different kinds of physical or mental conditions or disorders that might cause unsafe driving.

Does the doctor notify the Bureau of Motor Vehicles if a person is not medically cleared to drive?

Physicians have an ethical responsibility to balance the privacy rights of their patients with protecting public safety.  The American Medical Association (AMA) recommends that doctors evaluate a patient’s mental and physical abilities in reviewing fitness to drive, and weigh the risks and benefits of the patient’s driving on an individual, case-by-case basis.  If a doctor believes there is a risk, the AMA suggests doctors first talk to their patient and family about those risks.  This does not mean a driver must stop driving.  Referrals may be made to specialists who can remediate driving related issues such as vision care providers and physical therapists.  Changing driving habits and limiting driving to local daytime driving is another answer.  If a patient refuses the doctor’s advice, then the AMA encourages doctors to report the driver to the BMV.  A doctor should tell their patient before giving notice, and about their duty and obligation to do so.

If a person comes to your program, will you report them to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles?

No. We believe that a person should drive for as long as they are safe to do so and will do everything in our power to help that person accomplish safe driving. Our evaluations and recommendations will go back to the physician who referred the client.  It will be the physician’s responsibility to notify the BMV if a person is an unsafe driver or if they need to be re-evaluated.

If a person fails their driving evaluation with you, does this mean they cannot drive?

If they do not do well the first time, their doctor may ask for them to return for a re-evaluation to see if a medical condition has resolved with time or with a change in medication regimen.  Many medical conditions can be resolved during a rehabilitation process including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and learning to use adaptive equipment and compensatory driving strategies.

What can families and friends do if they feel a person is not safe to drive?

They can:

  • Share their concerns with other family members or friends,
  • Insist on taking the wheel if they are in the car with the person who is driving in a manner that makes them feel uncomfortable (especially if children are in the vehicle),
  • Consult with a family physician if unsure about the person’s ability to drive,
  • Help them find alternate means of transportation, such as buses, taxicabs, community vans, family and friends.

Why doesn’t health insurance pay for the driving evaluation?

Health insurance companies, including Medicare, do not consider driving to be a medical necessity on its own.  However, they SHOULD pay for it as  part of a complete skilled occupational therapy evaluation and treatment plan that includes driving along with other activities of daily living.  Please see “The General Process” and “Cost and Payment” sections for a complete explanation.

Does your program train new drivers?

No. Our program does not meet the Bureau of Motor Vehicles requirements for a licensed driver training school.  However, if it is found that additional training would assist the client to be able to confidently return to their previous level of function then a Certified Driving Instructor working with the Driving Evaluation Program will be made available either as part of their skilled rehab program or as a separate service if appropriate.