If driving has become more difficult for you for a reason like illness, disability or age, donít self diagnose or speculate about the type of adaptive equipment you may need. There are other places to start the process of confident driving independence. Whether your in the market for a wheelchair accessible van, hand controls, a left foot gas pedal or any other adaptive driving aid, itís best to consult with prefessionals first.
Start with your physician and discuss your concern/challenge. He/she will diagnose your problem, help you determine if you have the the capacity to safely operate a motor vehicle and may recommend an occupational therapist (OT). An OT will also help with the assessment process and possibly help you with rehabilitative exercises.
The next step may be a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS). A CDRS evaluates your skills and decides if youíll be able to drive with vehicle modifications and adaptive equipment, determine what is best for your unique needs and train you on their use.
During the evaluation you can try an assortment of equipment to enhance your abilities. Some equipment (turning seat, hand controls, etc.) may be more than you need today, but you may need them in six months or a year. When you feel confident with the equipment, you can train on the road, in traffic. The cost of a CDRS evaluation and training varies. Get an estimate from the evaluator and submit it to your insurance company and/or your stateís dept. of rehabilitation, who may assist with the cost.
Finally, visit a respected mobility equipment dealer like Main Mobility to purchase your adaptive driving aids and have them installed in your vehicle.When you decide youíre ready to purchase a van and/or adaptive or accessible equipment, consult with experts in the field. Main Mobility is a member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), and has trained mobility consultants on hand to help you find the right equipment for your needs.
You may also want to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or Licensing Bureau to see if yaou may have any restrictions.
Finally, take the driving test and get your license to drive!
To locate a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist in Western NY, visit our Mobility Resources page. If you live outside of the Western NY area, contact The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, 2425 N. Center St., #369 Hickory, North Carolina 28601 or visit www.aded.net. Call 828-855-1623 or toll free 866-672-9466 in the United States and Canada.