The driving assessment process
The first important thing to state is that Herts Ability can only complete a full driving assessment if the person being assessed has a current, valid driving licence. This can be either a full licence or a provisional licence. There are some aspects of the assessment which can be undertaken without a driving licence, such as cognitive testing, but we are unable to take you out driving on public roads. If you are not sure, please contact Herts Ability to discuss your situation. The assessment consists of various elements. These are as follows-:
- Physical assessment. If you have any kind of physical disability, then Herts Ability will conduct a brief physical assessment of you prior to taking you out in our car. This is primarily to help us to establish what, if any, adapted control systems we think might help. We have various adapted vehicles which are designed to facilitate such things as driving using only a left leg or using only hands.
- Cognitive assessment. Some medical conditions can affect the mental skills we use when we are driving. These include the ability to divide one’s attention, to process visual information at a reliable speed and to plan and problem solve the way through complex junctions and road situations. The tests we use are designed to give some background information regarding if these abilities have indeed been affected prior to going driving.
- Eyesight test. There is a legal requirement for a driver to be able to read a number plate, in normal daylight, from 20 metres. To ensure that this requirement is met, we ask all of clients to do exactly that!
- The drive. Once some or all of the above have been completed, the person being assessed will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their driving ability. This will involve using a Herts Ability vehicle equipped with dual controls. We are aware that this will mean someone driving an unfamiliar car in a stressful situation so, in order to make this as easy as possible, one of the Assessors will first drive the person being assessed to a quiet car park or housing estate. There they will be given as much time as they need to become familiar and comfortable with the assessment car. Once they are happy the assessment can begin.
The assessment is first and foremost a safety assessment. We are concerned that the driver can both maintain physical control of the car and interact safely and appropriately with all the other road users. We are not there to criticise anyone’s driving style (although our driving instructors will give any tips and suggestions they feel helpful). We are just looking to check that safety has not been compromised by any aspects of a medical condition.
Once the assessment is completed, our Assessors will give some immediate recommendations. We always hope that we can confirm that someone is safe to continue and to send them away to do so with our blessing. We do sometimes recommend a course of driving lessons (particularly if someone is using adapted controls for the first time). Unfortunately, if there are aspects of the drive which have caused the Assessors to raise safety concerns, they do sometimes have to recommend that the person stops driving.This recommendation is never given lightly, and we are all aware of the impact this can have on someone’s daily life.
If, because of a medical condition or for any other reason you do not drive and are not sure what local transport options are available to you, ask Herts Ability. We hold information on local schemes which may help. This is a free service.
The Driving Centre can also provide assessments and advice regarding other aspects of personal mobility. These include the following-: