Tip of the Day for 3/24/21

Today’s Tip of the Day talks about driving after a TBI.

How can a TBI affect driving ability?

A brain injury can disrupt and slow down skills that are essential for good driving, such as:

  • Ability to maintain a constant position in a lane.
  • Having accurate vision.
  • Maintaining concentration over long periods of time.
  • Memory functioning, such as recalling directions.
  • Figuring out solutions to problems.
  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Reaction time.
  • Safety awareness and judgment.

Warning signs of unsafe driving

  • Driving too fast/slow.
  • Not observing signs or signals.
  • Judging distance inaccurately when stopping or turning.
  • Slow to make decisions.
  • Becoming easily frustrated or confused.
  • Having accidents or near misses.
  • Drifting across lane markings into other lanes.
  • Getting lost easily, even in familiar areas.

Driving evaluations and training

A driving evaluation is a crucial step in determining a person’s ability to drive following recovery from a TBI. Research studies indicate that most TBI survivors are not thoroughly evaluated for driving skills before they begin driving after the injury, and this may put TBI survivors at risk for a crash.

While there is no standardized assessment test or process, a typical driving evaluation has two parts:

  • Preliminary Evaluation: A review of cognitive (thinking) abilities, including reaction time, judgment, reasoning and visual spatial skills. Recommendations regarding the need for adaptive equipment and additional skills training are based on the results of the evaluation.
  • On-the-Road: A test of the mechanical operation of a vehicle, either using a driving simulator or driving a vehicle on the roadway in the presence of the evaluator. This evaluation is used to assess safe driving skills in various traffic environments, as well as basic driving skills while a client uses the appropriate adaptive driving equipment.

Vehicle modifications

If an individual with TBI has physical disabilities but has well-preserved cognitive functions, the individual may be able to resume driving with adaptive equipment and/or other modifications to the vehicle.

Recommendations for adaptive equipment and modifications could include:

  • Hand-controlled gas and brake systems.
  • Spinner knobs for steering.
  • Left foot accelerator.
  • Lifts for entering and exiting the vehicle.

Step-by-Step: Should you be driving?

  1. Discuss your ability to drive with your doctor and/or health professionals, family members
  2. Get a professional evaluation to determine your driving ability
  3. Based on your evaluation you may be allowed to drive, need training or vehicle modification before returning to driving, or will need to use other transportation options

Check out our learning library at www.alaskabraininjury.net for online pamphlets with more tips on this and other issues that affect those with brain injury.

Source: https://msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/driving-after-traumatic-brain-injury

*the Tips of the Day are for informational purposes only and are not to replace the advice of a health care provider. See your doctor if you have any concerns bother medical and emotional. ccen