The goal of the CHI Health Driver Evaluation and training program is to help individuals with a learning disability, physical ailment and the elderly to gain or maintain their independence through safe driving when possible. Both clinical and behind-the-wheel evaluation and training is available. Physician referral is needed to participate in the program. Candidates also must be at least 15 years of age and meet requirements necessary to obtain a state driver's license or permit.
Our Driver Rehabilitation team is led by an Registered Occupational Therapist who is a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. She is also recognized by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles as a certified driver education instructor. Additional Nebraska certified driver education instructors provide behind the wheel training as well. Our team works closely with physicians, families and when appropriate other community resources to ensure the most appropriate services are provided for the individual
Older, adult drivers
Driving skills often can decline with age. Limitations need to be recognized so older adult drivers can compensate accordingly. Recommendations and training are available to improve existing skills, identify necessary restrictions including the time of day speed or location a driver should be on the road), or potential retirement from driving. Should driving cessation be recommended transportation alternatives will be discussed.
Physically challenged drivers
The Immanuel Rehabilitation Center offers a program designed to meet the needs of individuals who have had a change in their medical status. Examples of this would include: stroke, head injury, spinal cord injury, neuropathy, amputations, debility, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's disease and other conditions.
New drivers with physical or cognitive considerations
The program was developed to meet the needs of new drivers of all ages who have special considerations regarding their ability to learn to drive. This could be physical barriers or cognitive challenges. Training is available both in the classroom and behind the wheel to meet driver's education requirements for the state of Nebraska if appropriate. Behind the wheel training is available for all new drivers who qualify. Example of this would include, but are not limited to, individuals with spinal bifida, autism, Asperger's syndrome, learning disabilities, spinal cord injury, brain injury, cerebral palsy, etc.
Warning signs that an individual should have their driving evaluated
- Difficulty managing tasks that were once familiar to them
- Difficulty managing medication or finances
- Feeling nervous or fearful while driving
- Dents and scrapes on the car (garage, fences, mailbox, etc.)
- Friends or relative don't want to ride with them
- Other drivers honking
- Doesn't observe signs, signals or other traffic
- Needs instruction from passengers
- Slow or poor decision making
- Easily distracted
- Easily frustrated or confused
- Frequently gets lost, even in familiar areas
- Inappropriate driving speeds (too fast or slow)
- Poor lane position or wide turns
- Slowed reaction times
- Two or more collisions or near misses even if "it was the other person's fault."
- Drifting across lane marking, swerving in the lane or failing to signal
- Confusion between gas and brake pedal
- Looking down at feet when switching between gas and brake
- Forgetting to buckle up
- Difficulty merging on the interstate or onto busy streets
- Failing to check blind spots by looking over the shoulder
How to Get Started
A physician order is required to complete the Driver Evaluation program. On the day of the evaluation, a thorough driving evaluation is completed to examine specific abilities required to operate a vehicle safely. Recommendations regarding driving status will be discussed upon completion of the evaluation. A detailed report will be provided to the individual, referring physician and others at the individual's request.
This portion consists of assessing all or some of the following areas as needed: medical history, reason for referral, individual goals for driving, visual perceptual skills, basic driving rules, memory cognition, ability to sustain attention and multi-task information, range of motion, strength, reaction time, transfer ability and adaptive equipment needs.
This is a continuation of the skills assessment and how they affect the ability to safely operate a vehicle while complying with basic rules of the road, reaction time and safe driving practices. Attempt will be made to drive in areas that most closely simulate the individual's driving goals.
Based on the Driver Evaluation, recommendations are made for vehicle selection and adaptive equipment that may be needed. We work closely with specialized equipment providers to assure the needed vehicle modifications are made. Available adaptive equipment includes push/right angle hand control system, push/pull system, push/rock and push/twist, spinner knobs for one handed driving, left side mounted gas pedal, right side-mounted blinker and reduced effort steering. Recommendations will be made regarding transfer assistance, secondary controls and if higher tech equipment is required.
Driver Rehabilitation services are cash-based, fee for service. Payment is expected that the time of service and payment can be made in the form of cash, check, credit or debit card. Fees are $210 for the clinical portion and $140 for the behind the wheel evaluation. If recommended, additional training is available at $80 per hour. Outside funding such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Workers' Compensation will be accepted with prior authorization.