Driver Evaluation and Training

man using wheelchair and ramp to enter vehicle

Our  Driver Evaluation and Training Program is a comprehensive program offering first time drivers with disabilities or previous drivers with multiple medical conditions or age-related changes the opportunity to drive.

Evaluation

Our functional disability driver evaluation lasts approximately three hours and includes both a clinical and behind-the-wheel assessment of a consumer’s potential to independently drive a motor vehicle. Our vehicles are equipped with adaptations to closely match an individual’s physical needs allowing a prospective driver the opportunity to operate the adaptive equipment in a controlled, safe environment. At the conclusion of the evaluation, the consumer will receive a written report with recommendations outlining the required training and additional services needed in order to become an independent driver.

The evaluation includes:

  • medical history and current medications
  • driving history and current driving needs
  • visual assessment (vision and visual perception)
  • physical assessment (brake reactions, range of motion, strength,
  • sensation, coordination, balance)
  • cognitive assessment (memory, judgment, insight, multitasking,
  • command following, abstract thinking, mapping, etc.)
  • traffic safety and road rules knowledge
  • behavioral assessment
  • adaptive equipment needs
  • behind-the-wheel ability

Training

Our driver rehabilitation specialists prman driving at the wheelovide customized training which takes into account a person’s specific strengths and weaknesses identified in the evaluation. As each driver is unique in needs, the approximate number of training hours will be determined at the time of the initial assessment. All behind-the-wheel training is completed in one of our adapted cars or minivans based upon the consumer’s needs. Instruction will also include loading and unloading mobility equipment from the vehicle.

Previous-Driver Safety

As an individual ages, changes in physical, mental, and/or sensory abilities can challenge the ability to drive safely. Our driving specialists have the knowledge to understand progressive age-related conditions and life changes that can affect driving.

We offer recommendations that can include:

  • behind-the-wheel training to improve driving skills
  • adaptations, assistive devices, or compensatory strategies to improve safety
  • mapping skills to provide safe alternate routes in the community
  • cessation from driving and alternate transportation ideas
  • independently operating a vehicle

Bioptic Telescope Driving

Bioptic driving is a method of driving that utilizes both the driver’s general vision and intermittent vision through a small telescopic system that improves the sharpness of the vision. This driving technique is appropriate for individuals with eye conditions include albinism, nystagmus, corneal diseases, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, histoplasmosis, Stargardt’s disease and achromatopsia.

A team including a low-vision optometrist, driving specialist certified in bioptic driving and the Indiana BMV all work together to ensure that consumers are successfually trained in using the bioptic telescope approach. Bioptic driving requires extensive training in both the use of the telescope and behind-the-wheel. integration. The Indiana BMV requires a minimum of 30 hours behind-the-wheel training. To determine if an individual is a candidate for bioptic telescope driving, one must be referred by a low vision optometrist. Contact our office for further information.

Low Vision and Driving

Our driving specialists are trained in adaptive techniques to enhance the safety of operating a motor vehicle if an individual is experiencing low-vision. We work closely with optometrists and ophthalmologists as well as our occupational therapy low vision staff to determine if a person is eligible to continue to drive safely. Some common diagnoses of individuals who benefit from low-vision driver training include mild loss of central vision, constricted visual fields, hemianopsia, diplopia, macular degeneration, corneal diseases, cataracts, glaucoma, mid-line shift, and retinal detachment. Our driving specialists can provide behind-the-wheel training with prisms, adaptive mirrors, and compensatory techniques to help an individual achieve the goal of independent driving.

Vehicle Modification Evaluations

The purpose of a vehicle modification evaluation is to assure an accurate and correctly fitted vehicle to meet the consumer’s needs. Our driving rehabilitation specialists can evaluate cars, minivans, full-size vans, SUVs, and trucks for consumers who are licensed adaptive drivers, currently participating in adaptive driver training or vehicle passengers. Upon completion of a vehicle modification evaluation, the consumer will receive a written report with a vehicle prescription and will be assisted in the process of working with a vendor toward the completion of the adapted vehicle. We recommend that consumers not purchase a new vehicle prior to this evaluation.

The vehicle modification evaluation will include:

  • medical history and physical needs
  • adaptive driving equipment needs
  • wheelchair or scooter measurements
  • loading/unloading and storage of wheelchair or scooter
  • vehicle selection to assure vehicle meets consumer’s needs

Resource Sheets

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is the final authority on an individual’s qualifications to drive.