Quizzes and questionnaires can provide insights into your driving future. But once you’ve completed those, it’s time to consult the experts.
Your primary care physician
Your regular doctor knows your medical history, the medications you’re taking (and possible side effects) and any recent symptoms you’ve brought to his/her office. If you haven’t had a physical recently, this is an important first step in evaluating and maintaining your fitness to drive.
Vision and hearing specialists
Get a vision exam with your optometrist or ophthalmologist and a hearing evaluation with an ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist. If your driving difficulties stem from an eyeglass prescription that’s too weak, that’s an easy fix—but you won’t know if you don’t get the exam. Some conditions, like glaucoma, are “invisible” until they progress too far.
A professional driving instructor
A professional driving instructor knows how to teach the skills of driving and is up-to-date on the legal rules of the road. Driving instructors are teachers who are experts in teaching novice drivers at the operational and tactical levels by practice. Contacting a driving instructor can be helpful if you want to: 1) brush up on the rules of the road, 2) get feedback on your driving habits or 3) learn the best routes if you moved to a new area.
It is critical to understand that if you have a medical condition, memory problem or notice your reaction time is significantly slower, the driving instructor does not have the background, understanding or skill set to evaluate you properly.
An Occupational Therapist Driving Rehabilitation Specialist (OT-DRS)
An OT-DRS is a medically trained therapist who understand how physical, sensory and cognitive impairments can affect driving. If you have a medical condition that could affect your driving (such as dementia, arthritis or diabetes), an OT-DRS can perform a comprehensive driving evaluation that will more accurately evaluate your driving fitness. More importantly, if you are just slowing down, recovering from a medical condition or wonder when you can return to driving, an OT-DRS would be the best person to assist you with that decision. Additionally, they may have strategies or solutions to help you drive if you have impairments. For example, a steering adaptation could assist if your hand function has not returned fully after a stroke. Or, if you are short in stature, there are easy solutions to adjust your vehicle perfectly for you.