Driver Training Services | Program | MedStar Health

Driver Training Program for Persons with Disabilities and Older Drivers

A rehabilitation therapist and a patient sit in a car during a driver rehabililtation training session at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital.

Our Driver Training Program is a fully accessible program in the Washington metropolitan area. The program helps people with disabilities and older drivers who wish to return to driving or learn to drive for the first time. The Driver Training Program staff is made up of licensed and registered occupational and physical therapists and rehabilitation engineers who are experienced in working with people with a variety of disabilities.

  1. Clinical Driving Evaluation (pre-driving)

    You will participate in a full clinical examination. We will start by reviewing your medical and driving history. Our specialists will assess your physical abilities, cognitive functioning, road knowledge, vision, and reaction time and review your goals to ensure optimal results.

  2. Behind the Wheel Evaluation

    The Behind the Wheel (On-Road) evaluation is completed in one of our specially modified vehicles. We use our company vehicles for this portion of the assessment for safety reasons, as they are equipped with dual controls, and have additional adaptive driving equipment that can be utilized as needed.

    We will assess your driving ability and introduce equipment and/or techniques as appropriate that can assist in maximizing your driving performance. We have designed specific driving routes that gives us a clear snapshot of your abilities.

  3. Report and Recommendations

    Once the evaluation has been completed, we will discuss your entire assessment and share our recommendations with you, your family and referring physician. In the best cases we can recommend that you return to driving without restriction.

    Unfortunately, not everyone can return to driving, and sometimes our recommendation must be cessation from driving. This is difficult for anyone to hear. We will assist with counseling regarding alternative transportation options that will meet your new mobility needs as a non-driver. It is important that we make decisions and recommendations for your safety and for the safety of others using our roadways. It is always possible that your condition could change or technology advancement could improve your function. In that case we would invite you to return for reassessment at that time.

  4. Vehicle fittings

    Vehicle fittings are an integral part of the vehicle modification process and are rendered to aid in the proper fit and placement of all controls relative to the client’s driving position and abilities.  Fittings assure the best interface between the driver, the vehicle, any assistive mobility devices utilized, and the driving controls.

    Vehicle Fittings are provided for individuals who have successfully completed a driver evaluation, participated in driver training sessions to become proficient in the use of prescribed adaptive equipment and are having their personal vehicle modified with adaptive controls.

    Fittings occur once a client’s vehicle is at a modification vendor’s shop for installation of prescribed adaptive equipment. Fittings occur at the modification vendor’s shop location.

  5. Final Road Test Preparation

    A final training session is completed in the client’s modified vehicle to ensure the client is proficient and comfortable navigating regular driving routes with the adaptive controls.

    Final training may include a trip to the MVA/DMV for the client to complete a road test in his/her modified vehicle and obtain adaptive equipment restrictions on his/her license.

  6. Driving Simulator

    The Virage driving simulator provides an immersive driving environment with a 180 degree field of view, real car cockpit and motion platform.  It is used to measure a driver’s ability to control a vehicle and anticipate and manage risk in complex situations. It records driver performance, vehicle position, speed and reaction time for a variety of programmed traffic events.  Skills such as lane keeping, turning, hazard perception and collision avoidance are addressed in the different training modes.

We are currently using the simulator for patients who have driving goals, but may not be safe or ready for a behind the wheel evaluation or training.  Patients with stroke, TBI, Parkinson’s, age-related impairments can be assessed with the simulator.