Driving with Adaptive Equipment
Our process for assisting individuals who may need to drive with adaptive equipment was created using Best Practice Guidelines as established by the National Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists.
Driver completes a comprehensive assessment with our Occupational Therapist/Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist to determine medical fitness, functional status, and appropriate equipment.
- An assessment includes a clinical evaluation of physical, visual and cognitive skills to validate functional abilities and a behind the wheel evaluation to trial potential adaptive controls. Evaluation vehicles have different hand control options, multiple steering orthotics, a left foot accelerator and pedal extensions of various lengths for trial. A wheelchair accessible vehicle is available for individuals who may need to drive from a power wheelchair.
- An assessment concludes with recommendations regarding:
a) A preliminary vehicle modification prescription for anticipated vehicle modification needs.
b) Training needed to assure safe use of the equipment
c) Counsel regarding appropriate stowage of mobility devices such as a walker or wheelchair
d) Guidance regarding proper interface of all controls and devices for modification in the client’s vehicle.
- Evaluations are provided by appointment only at our clinic location, 5417 Frieden Church Road, McLeansville, NC.
- Training occurs in a DRS company vehicle set up with equipment for the client’s specific needs.
- DRS vehicles have state required dual brakes, extra mirrors, and safety signage.
- The driver practice skills needed for independent control operation such as acceleration, braking, parking, backing, etc.
- Training also assures the person is making safe and independent decisions behind the wheel, judging space and time for merging, changing lanes, and parking, and incorporating disciplined visual scanning.
- Upon completion, the driver is issued a certificate of proficiency that endorses moving forward with a vehicle modification.
- Training occurs at the driver’s location, in their usual driving environment, assuring safe and independent execution of familiar and frequented routes.
STEP THREE: Driver begins vehicle modifications and participates in a vehicle fitting.
- Following training, a final vehicle prescription for adaptive controls is provided to the client and the client’s vehicle modifier. The vehicle modifier will provide the client with a cost quote and order the equipment.
- The client, our Driver Rehab Specialist, and the vendor will establish a date and time for a vehicle fitting. Once modifications are underway the client, our Driver Rehab Specialist, and the vendor technician installing the adaptive controls will meet at the vehicle modifier’s shop to complete a vehicle fitting to assure that the controls are installed and positioned appropriately relative to the driver’s abilities. Adjustments will be made under the direction of our Driver Rehab Specialist. The vendor will require that they have the vehicle for a period of time prior to the fitting to allow for installation of the adaptive equipment.
- Our Driver Rehab Specialist rides with the client at the modifier’s location so that the client may test the equipment and verify comfort level prior to taking the vehicle home.
- Fittings are provided at the location of the chosen vehicle modification vendor.
STEP FOUR: Driver completes final training in the newly modified vehicle.
- Given that initial training occurs in the Driver Rehab Services vehicle, a few hours of final training are completed in the client’s modified vehicle and local driving environment to assure the client is proficient and comfortable navigating regular driving routes with the adaptive controls.
- Final training includes a trip to the DMV for the client to complete a road test in his/her modified vehicle and obtain adaptive equipment restrictions on his/her license. This is required for the client to be legally endorsed by the State of NC to use adaptive equipment. Upon presenting for the road test, the DMV examiner may choose to place the individual in the DMV medical evaluation program and issue a medical report form for the client’s physician to complete if the examiner has concerns about the client’s medical status.
Commonly Asked Questions about Driving with Adaptive Equipment
Can I get controls installed in my vehicle without ever having used the controls? Credible vehicle modification professionals follow best practice guidelines as set forth by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). They will not install adaptive controls until assurance is reached that you are medically fit and safely trained to use the equipment. Therefore, individuals need to complete a comprehensive driver evaluation and specialized training for using the equipment prior to having equipment installed. This process allows for a final vehicle prescription to be provided to the vehicle modification vendor.
Can I purchase and install equipment myself? Adaptive equipment affecting the primary gas, brake, and steering functions of the vehicle as well as the secondary functions like blinkers, gear selector, and wipers should be installed by a licensed and certified mechanic familiar with federal motor vehicle safety guidelines. This is imperative for the safety of roadway users.
Will my insurance cover the cost of an evaluation or training? Private health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of evaluation and training services as driving is considered a privilege and not a medical necessity. Common funding sources include school systems for teen drivers, workers compensation providers, vocational rehabilitation services, independent living services, and private funding.
Can I use my own car for behind the wheel training? Training is completed in a company vehicle as the NC Division of Motor Vehicles requires that driving instruction be completed in vehicles equipped with dual brakes, extra mirrors and safety signage. This maximizes safety when learning a new way to drive. Once vehicle modifications have been completed, some final training is provided in the client’s modified vehicle. Final training includes a trip to the DMV for the client to complete a road test and obtain adaptive equipment restrictions on his/her license.
Can I complete a driver evaluation or training if my license has expired? No. You need to have a current license or permit to complete driving related services. If your license has expired, you can obtain a permit. Driver Rehabilitation Services will aid in training you with the adaptive controls to maximize success in passing the DMV road test and achieving licensure or updating your license with the proper restrictions for your required controls.
Does vehicle insurance cover my adaptive equipment? You need to speak with your vehicle insurance carrier about any adaptive equipment installed in your vehicle. The insurance carrier should inform you as to what is required in order to obtain coverage for replacement of the equipment in case of an accident.
Can a non-disabled person drive my vehicle one it has been modified? Most vehicles are able to be driven by an able-bodied individual using the regular accelerator and brake. Many hand controls have a lock-out feature to prevent use by a non-trained person. Other controls should simply be avoided for driving use by an able-bodied driver. On a rare occasion, equipment may have to be custom fit for a driver’s specific needs which may not allow for another individual to drive the vehicle. All effort is made to assure that the vehicle can also be driven in a typical manner.