If you have recently become a person with a disability or you’re a senior and realize your driving skills have declined over the years, don’t self diagnose or speculate about the type of adaptive equipment you may need. There are four other places to start the process of confident driving independence.

Don’t buy anything yet – not a van or even hand controls – before you consult with these four places!

Start with (1) your physician and discuss your concern/challenge. He/she will diagnose your problem and may recommend (2) an occupational therapist (OT). If the OT cannot help, the next step is (3) a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS).

A CDRS evaluates your skills and decides if you’ll 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 state’s dept. of rehabilitation, who may assist with the cost.

When you decide you’re ready to purchase a van and/or adaptive or accessible equipment, consult with experts in the field. To locate one, call the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association at 866-948-8341 or visit www.nmeda.com.

Finally, take the driving test and get your license to drive!

To locate a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist in your 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.

This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is a mobility equipment and accessibility expert!

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