What would you do if you couldn't drive?
For most people, driving or access to a vehicle allows them to get to work, to the shops, to the doctor, to visit the family, to drop the kids at school, to go on holidays. From a young age, driving and/or access into a vehicle gives people freedom, independence and control over their lives.
Drivers must realise that driving is indeed a privilege and comes with responsibilities; the ability to drive may be affected by functional changes resulting from ageing, illness, disability and injury.
At Driving Well Occupational Therapy, we work with people that have an injury or medical condition that may be impacting on their ability to drive safely or access a vehicle.
Driving with a medical condition or disability
The law in Queensland states that "any person with a medical condition or disability that may affect their ability to drive, must have medical clearance from their doctor. In cases where there is concern regarding learning ability or a physical impairment, the person will need to have an Occupational Therapy driving assessment."
This law is called Jet's Law", named for Jet Rowland who in 2004 was 2 years old and involved in an accident, where the driver of the other vehicle had epilepsy and shouldn't have been driving. Jet was killed, his older brother had a catastrophic spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair, and their mother Anita (a Police Officer) sustained serious orthopaedic injuries.
When a GP is unsure about the person’s ability to drive or the functional impact of the medical condition or disability on driving, they can refer for an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment. This must be completed by an Occupational Therapist with the additional post-graduate driver assessor qualification.
After an OT driving assessment, the OT will make a recommendation back to the GP in a formal report, and then the GP makes the final decision about the persons medical fitness for driving. To continue driving, the GP writes a new QLD Transport Medical Certificate for the person to take to the QLD Transport office for processing; an updated licence is then provided.
There are extremely serious consequences of driving with a medical condition when the proper clearance and reporting is not completed:
- In the case of an accident, insurance is voided
- Significant fine (in excess of $10000)
- Potential criminal charges – prosecution
- Putting themselves and others in danger
For further information:
Occupational therapy driving assessment outcomes
Driving Well Occupational Therapy completes specialised occupational therapy assessments about a person's ability to drive with a medical condition or disability.
There are three possible outcomes of any OT driving assessment:
"Pass": it could be that the medical condition is not impacting on driving and the person can get back to driving
"Coaching and Rehab": it could be that the person requires coaching with a driving instructor or lessons to learn to use vehicle modifications, followed by re-assessment with the OT
"Fail": sometimes the medical condition is impacting on driving and the person is no longer safe to drive -
cancellation of the licence will be recommended
"Driving is a privilege - not a right"
Driving Well Occupational Therapy provides support through the QLD Transport licencing and medical condition notification process (which can be a little daunting). We also provide support through the process of obtaining vehicle modifications and funding assistance to those who are eligible.
At Driving Well Occupational Therapy we understand the importance of driving on our client's independence, on their well-being and on their identity. At the same time, we value client's safety and the safety of the community. We strive for honesty, care and understanding to help everyone through this challenging time, so that you can be reassured that if the client is continuing to drive they are safe.