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 Driver Evaluation and Training




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Driver Evaluation and Training

by Nicole Martins

Looking outside and seeing the number of vehicles on the road, we are reminded of just how important transportation is in our daily lives: Driving takes us to work, to a doctors’ appointment or to the store, to pick up a bag of groceries. And it is with these daily tasks and pleasures, that each of us is able to lead an independent life. Yet for an individual with a physical disability, the ability to go and purchase a standard vehicle, and drive away, is generally not an option.

However, thanks to great technological advances, and with the aid of special adaptive equipment and/or modification, an individual who desires to drive, may, be able to so. The question you may ask is: are there services and organizations out there designed to help you. The answer is yes.

To take a closer look, let’s look at what a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (DRS) does, and also the organization behind a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist: ADED, or the Association for Rehabilitation Drivers Specialist

History of Adaptive Driving: The Department of Veteran Affairs and ADED

In the early 1970’s the Department of Veteran Affairs became the role model for adaptive driving. This government agency, however, only offered resources and funding to its’ veterans; which were many following the Vietnam War. Fast forward to 1977 and ADED was established. This association was established to “support professionals working in the field of driver education / driver training and transportation equipment modifications for persons with disabilities through education and information dissemination.” ADED is not connected to Veterans Affairs, yet it does continue on VA industry standards. This association protects the public, especially because standards such as “certification,” is required by Driver Rehabilitation Specialists many of whom work or run private driving schools or are associated with hospitals.

The Importance of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (DRS)

According to the ADED website, “The term Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (DRS) signifies one who plans, develops, coordinates and implements driver rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities.” And, if a physically disabled individual seeks to drive, the first calls to be made, would be to the person’s physician and a DRS. While it is not mandatory to get a physicians’ prescription or medical records, many CDRS’, including Jeff Lango of Alpine Rehab and Wellness Inc., in Portland, Oregon, feel that it is best. According to Mr. Lango, the long relationship that an individual has with his or her doctor also weights in with importance, because in most cases a client starts off as new to a driving program, and has never been seen before. Mr. Lango sends out a questionnaire to clients before their initial visit to begin the assessment process.

The Role of DRS in Private Driving Schools and Hospitals

For a physically disabled individual looking to drive, the important role that a private driving school can play is enormous. In most cases you will be working with a CDRS, (certified driver rehabilitation specialist) and this professional will provide a “Clinical evaluation” and a “Behind the Wheel evaluation.” Unfortunately, some schools only offer one evaluation, which means that, for example, to do the “Behind the Wheel evaluation,” you may need to find another school.
Some schools offer both, as does Mr. Lango’s, and the advantage is that you’ve got one-stop-shopping. If an individual passes both the “Clinical evaluation”, which includes: range of motion, balance, cognition and sight; and the “Behind the Wheel evaluation” which includes stop sign and lane change evaluation, ordering adaptive equipment and being trained to drive with the new equipment is also part of the program services offered by most private driving schools.
According to Mr. Lango, even if the clinical evaluation doesn’t go well, it is still important to do a behind the wheel test to fully assess.
And driving schools aren’t the only ones doing driver rehabilitation; many hospitals also provide these services, or some of the program services. Keep in mind that each driving school and hospital has its’ own program and services. Some schools, as mentioned above, offer both: behind the wheel and clinical evaluation; some offer just one or the other. Also, many hospitals offer Simulators and not a physical “Behind the Wheel evaluation.” When asking Jeff Lango, how he feels about Simulators; Mr. Lango responded that “it doesn’t give a fair picture,” and that it is not fair to the driver.


In general, because driving is not considered a medical necessity, insurance companies like Blue Shield and Blue Cross among others don’t cover. This is also true for Medicare, which sets the guidelines that private insurance companies follow. When asking Mr. Lango what he says to an individual who is short on funds to pay for his driving program, he suggests that he or she try the church or community, as they have resources to help people get set up. And, if you can establish that you are employable, contact your state’s department of driving and vocational services.


To find local resources and rehabilitation driving schools in your area consult the ADED website at: www.driver-ed.org . Start with a phone call and keep moving forward!

About the Author

Nicole Martins is the publisher of adaptedvan.com. Read more about handicap accessible vans or visit this site at: http://www.adaptedvan.com 




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