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Issue 92, March 2006
This Article is part two of three, relating to HD and Driving. The third article will appear in a future issue.

Driving Assessments

Individuals with Huntington’s disease may continue driving for as long as it is clear that the driver can compensate for early problems, adjust driving circumstances and exercise adequate judgement to ensure safety. Where safe driving capacity is less than definite the person with HD may need a driving assessment.

What the driving assessment involves

Driving assessments are carried out by registered occupational therapists. First, you’ll -have an assessment in the therapist’s office. (This is called an off-road assessment). Then they’ll take you out for a practical driving assessment. This is called an on-road assessment.)

The off-road assessment

This part of the assessment will take up to two hours. The occupational therapist will carry out a thorough check of:

  • your vision (basic screening)
  • your physical functions (such as range of movement, strength, sensation and coordination)
  • your judgement
  • your memory
  • your directional orientation
  • your movement and decision making times
  • how your mind understands what you see
  • your knowledge of road rules and signs
The therapist may use a computer-based tool for part of this assessment.

The on-road assessment

Occasionally, a driver’s off-road assessment suggests they should not be driving. If this happens, the occupational therapist may still want you to proceed with the on-road assessment, to confirm the off-road assessment results.

The on-road assessment further assesses the impact that any disability or illness, or aging, might be having on your ability to drive safely.

During the on-road assessment, you’ll be accompanied by the occupational therapist. Sometimes a specially trained driving instructor will be there as well.

You’ll tackle a range of driving situations – for example:
  • driving on both the open road and urban roads
  • driving through controlled and uncontrolled intersections
  • parking
  • maneuvering
The on-road assessment may involve approximately 40-60 minutes of driving.

What happens after the driving assessment?

When you’ve finished both parts of the driving assessment, the occupational therapist will write a report outlining their observations and providing a professional recommendation.

This report will be sent back to the GP who asked for you to be assessed.

The GP will read the report then decide whether or not they consider you medically fit to drive.

If the GP signs the medical certificate confirming, you are fit to drive, you can continue with your driver licensing application.

(Doctors also have the legal obligation to advise Land Transport New Zealand if they believe that a person unfit to drive is likely to carry on driving).

Where you can find out more

If you want more information, you could:
  • Speak to your GP
  • Contact New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists:
    (Phone (04) 473 6510, Fax (04)473 6513)
  • Contact Land Transport New Zealand (LTSA):
    (Call the LTSA Medical Team on (free phone) 0800 822 422 ext 8089
    Email info@landtransport.govt.nz)
  • Contact Enable information on 0800 17 1981
Acknowledgement: Land Transport Safety Association

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