As you get older and into your Golden Years, your driving skills begin to deteriorate. Your ability to respond as quickly as you did compared to just 5 years before is noticeable not only to your friends and family but to you. Your confidence to drive at night is diminished. If this is a scenario for you or a loved one, then you may want to consider having a driving evaluation done by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. This person can help you to adapt new technology to extend your driving years.
Because of new technology, your ability to drive into later years of your life has been extended. Some of these adaptive technologies are as simple as swivel seats for more convenient access or hand controls for a driver to safely operate a vehicle.
But each person and their skill and physical levels are different and require different forms of technology. The NHTSA recommends seeking the help of a driver rehabilitation specialist to help people choose the correct adaptive devices for their automobiles.
A rehabilitation specialist will take into consideration your future equipment needs based on your medical condition and the repetitive stress an adaptive aid may place on a particular muscle group.
Also expect a vision screening as well as testing for muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion; coordination and reaction time; judgment and decision-making abilities; and ability to drive with adaptive equipment. Once the evaluation is done, you should get a report with recommendations for you such as restrictions or requirements and a list of any vehicle requirements and modifications. You will likely also receive a recommendation for on-the-road training to practice using the new equipment and to learn safe driving habits.
To find a qualified driver rehabilitation specialist, you’ll find rehabilitation centers for each State listed on the Websites for the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) and the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA). These associations maintain lists of qualified driver rehabilitation specialists in most states. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put together helpful information called “Adapting Motor Vehicles for Older Drivers.” See their Website.