Driving Assessment & Rehab

The Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service (DARS) was established to provide support to clients who may be experiencing difficulties in relation to driving. The service provides Occupational Therapy Driving Assessments to adult clients with injuries or illnesses that impact on their ability to drive.

Occupational Therapy Driving Assessments are conducted by Occupational Therapists who have successfully completed post graduate training in Driving Assessment and who are registered with the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). Drivers with commercial driving licences may also be referred.

Overview – Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service

Based in Port Macquarie, the Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service provide services throughout Regional NSW:

  • Mid-North Coast (Forster, Taree, Wingham, Port Macquarie)
  • North Coast (Kempsey, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Crescent Head, Coffs Harbour)

Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service

Driving helps people to be mobile and independent in their community. Driving, or being driven, allows people to engage in work, social and recreational activities. The Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service aims to help drivers retain or regain their ability to drive safely.

Conditions Affecting Driving Ability

The Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service can assist clients with a range of medical conditions including:

  • Dementia
  • Brain Injury
  • Spinal injury – paraplegia, quadriplegia
  • Neurological Injury e.g. Stroke
  • Physical injury e.g. amputation
  • Mental Health conditions – anxiety, psychosis
  • Congenital Conditions e.g. dwarfism, cerebral palsy.

Initial Driving Screening

An initial off road driving screening may be recommended to help determine if driving is a realistic personal goal.

The initial screening provides clients with an opportunity to discuss a number of issues prior to having a full Occupational Therapy driving assessment. Common issues discussed include: Potential outcomes of an assessment, off road assessment, On road assessment, the role of the RMS, licence restrictions, insurance and vehicle modifications, fees – costs and rebates.

OFF Road Driving Assessment

The OFF Road driving assessment usually takes place at the clinic located in Port Macquarie and is conducted by the Occupational Therapist, However arrangements may be made to conduct this assessment at the clients home or at another location.

The OFF Road assessment is a comprehensive assessment and can include an assessment of the following:

  • Physical assessment – Strength, movement, coordination and reflexes
  • Vision Assessment – Acuity, fields of vision
  • Cognitive Assessment – Concentration, problem solving, decision making, memory
  • Perceptual Assessment – spatial awareness
  • Road Rules – knowledge of road signs and road rules

ON Road Driving Assessment

The ON road assessment is conducted by the Occupational Therapist and a Driving Instructor. The ON road assessment is conducted in either the clients own vehicle (vehicle must be – registered, insured and road worthy) or in the Driving Instructor’s dual control vehicle. ON Road assessments can be conducted in a manual or an automatic vehicle. The ON Road assessment includes an assessment of the following:

  • Driving skills
  • Road Craft
  • Driver Habits
  • Effect of illness or injury on the client’s ability to drive safely

Possible Results of an OFF and ON Road Assessment

The client is provided with feedback immediately after the ON road assessment. There are a number of possible outcomes of the assessment including:

  • Client may continue to drive without any restrictions
  • Client must drive with licence restrictions – e.g. only driving at certain times of day or distance from home
  • Client must drive with modifications to their vehicle
  • Client must have lessons with a Driving Instructor
  • Client must commence a rehabilitation program and undergo retesting.

Sometimes the recommendation is made for the client to stop driving and this leads to a cancellation of their licence by the RMS.

Equipment and Resources

Driving Assessment & Rehabilitation Service have access to Suppliers who stock a range of equipment for purchase including:

  • Back Supports and Seating Cushions
  • Panoramic Mirrors
  • Steering Wheel – modification

The service has access to a modified vehicle with modifications such as:

  • Electronic Hand Controls
  • Left Foot Accelerator
  • Steering Aids

Fees – Costs and Rebates

Fees can vary depending on the client’s circumstances and the nature of the referral.

  • Some clients are eligible for a partial rebate through Medicare and the Allied Health, Enhanced Primary Care Scheme.
  • Some clients are eligible for rebates through their own private health insurance.
  • Some clients are able to receive a service through Workers Compensation or CTP Insurance, or NDIS funding.

Please contact the Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Service for further information and a Fee Schedule.