A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Pre-driving assessment by occupational therapy helps determine ability to drive

Driving is a task that requires many different cognitive and physical abilities. Sometimes, health concerns related to injury or aging can impair one’s ability to drive. To help determine whether someone can drive, an occupational therapist can conduct a pre-driving assessment.

Image of a man starting a car for a driving assessment.

A pre-driving assessment helps to determine whether an adult has the abilities necessary to drive safely.

An occupational therapist can assess four areas to determine skills and abilities as they relate to driving. Those areas include cognition, reaction time, visual ability and physical ability.

To assess one’s cognition, an occupational therapist will test:

  • Visual attention
  • Task switching
  • Mental flexibility
  • Memory
  • Overall executive function

When assessing visual skills, an occupational therapist will check:

  • Speed of processing visual information
  • Visual neglect
  • Ability to control eye movements
  • Ability to meet the Department of Transportation physical eye test requirements

An occupational therapist will check a patient’s physical skills by assessing:

  • Strength
  • Range of motion of neck, trunk and upper and lower extremities
  • Muscle tone abnormalities
  • Motor sequencing
  • Endurance

To assess one’s reaction time, an occupational therapist will have a patient demonstrate speed of movement from accelerator to brake. This skill is a combination of processes from the visual, cognitive, and physical systems.

In this video, Dawn Kumm, occupational therapist at Marshfield Clinic Health System, demonstrates what a typical pre-driving assessment looks like.

For driving concerns, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

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