Driving assessments for those with a medical condition
The effect of some medical conditions on driving are very obvious to see. An example of this might be where someone has non-functioning arm or leg. Safety adaptions can be made to the vehicle to enable them to stay in safe control. Where this is the case, a standard driving assessment can be carried out by a local driving instructor.
However, you would be best advised to pick one who has dealt with experienced drivers in the past.
Your Local Authority may be able to help with this.
There are some medical conditions which make a standard driving assessment not a sensible option. These are normally conditions where the cognitive function is affected.
A driving instructor is unlikely to understand, sufficiently, how a cognitive impairment will affect driving under situations which may be not encountered on an assessed drive.
This can then give false confidence which makes it more diffcult for those who do see the rsisk involved.
The Driving Mobility Centres
The Driving Mobility organisation have a number of centres across the UK that specialise in Assessments of drivers with a medical condition that may affect safe driving. They use occupational therapists as well as driving assessors which are able to provide a relatively consistent assessment of a person's fitness to hold a driving licence.
This organisation is the one that DVLA use if they require a practical assessment during a medical enquiry for a licence renewal.
What does an assessment at a Driving Mobility Centre involve?
To start with, you need to be aware that this is a quite comprehensive assessment which is likely, in many cases, to decide whether you can keep your licence.
Holding a driving licence gives you the freedom to drive, more or less, wherever you want as long as you meet other legal requirements such as insurance for your vehicle.
Because of this, as well as the need for a consistent approach, Driving Mobility require that you visit their nearest Centre and drive around the roads that are local to the centre. You also need to drive in one of their dual controlled vehicles for safety reasons.
You will be given a fair chance to prove you are fit to drive but if you don't pass the assessment, it is likely that you will not be able to continue driving if there is a medical condition involved where improvement is unlikely.
How do I book a Driving Mobility Assessment?
To make enquiries about a driving assessment with Driving Mobility, you need to find your nearest centre. To do this you can check their website.
What if I don't want to be assessed on unfamiliar roads and in an unfamiliar vehicle?
When a driver is first diagnosed with dementia it is a legal requirement to notify DVLA.
If they require you to take a driving assessment, the official assessment would be normally carried out at a Driving Mobility Centre. Occasionally you will have to take a test at a local driving test centre.
When first diagnosed, it is more likely that DVLA will simply rely on your GP's guidance by writing to them. The GP or Consultant may require you to take a driving assessment and if they stipulate that you need to go to a Driving Mobility Centre, there is not much choice in the matter if you want their support to carry on driving.
If they don't stipulate that organisation, you may get their agreement that a standard driving assessment report from a local driving instructor will do.
However, there is a potentially large drawback with this in that the driving instructor is unlikely to have any knowledge about how the disease affects people's driving. They may, therefore, not necessarily assess the appropriate issues.
This can lead to a perfectly satisfactory report with some advice to practice the weak points in your driving.
This may be what you want to hear but it does not necessarily represent the actual risk you are at on a day-to-day basis. It can also give false confidence to everyone concerned.
The reason this can happen is that dementia normally means it is extremely difficult to change habits or learn something new. On a driving assessment most people will be in full concentration mode as well as on their best driving behaviour.
If the route driven is fairly straight forward without any unusual hazards, the instructor will report just on that drive.
What is needed, where a driver has dementia, is for an assessor to ask themselves 'what if a child stepped out? What if the normal road was closed? What if the driver became very stressed?' So, a more complex approach is needed that actually assesses these factors to the best degree possible.
If you would like to find out more about possible alternative ways to be assessed, contact us by clicking the button below.