Written by SMH Outpatient Coordinator Wanda Jackson
Are you hesitant to drive at night? Do “backseat drivers” complain that you drift into other lanes? Have you gotten lost driving a familiar route?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, consider asking your doctor about a driver evaluation and driving rehabilitation, if needed. The Driver Evaluation and Rehabilitation program is not about taking away anyone’s driver’s license, or freedom. It’s about determining a driver's strengths and weaknesses to ensure their safety, as well as that of passengers and others on the road.
Some other signs that warrant a driving evaluation include:
- Disorientation in familiar places
- Difficulty judging distance and space
- Inability to multi-task
- Increased memory loss, especially short-term
- Frequent mood swings, confusion and irritability
- Decreased ability to process information, solve problems or make decisions
- Trouble seeing road signs or following signals
- Forgetting to signal or signaling incorrectly
- Difficulty executing turns or lane changes
- Not noticing other vehicles, pedestrians or road hazards
- Becoming drowsy or falling asleep behind the wheel
- Slowed response time
- Misjudging gaps in traffic
- Being honked at often by other drivers
- Parking inappropriately
- Getting tickets for traffic violations
- Getting into near-miss situations, fender benders or other accidents
- Driving too slowly
How It Works
The Driver Evaluation and Rehabilitation program is about assessing and training — not about forcing anyone to retire from driving. If you think you could benefit from an evaluation or driver rehab (if needed), ask your primary care physician to refer you for a driver evaluation.
SMH Driver Evaluation: Sarasota Memorial’s Outpatient Rehab Services offers objective driving performance assessments. Therapists who are certified driving rehabilitation specialists conduct the evaluations to identify a driver’s strengths and weaknesses.
The evaluation report is sent to the referring physician, who will determine whether there is a need for rehabilitation/re-education, limiting driving to daytime or if it’s possibly time to consider hanging up the keys.
SMH Driver Rehab: Driver evaluation recommendations can include anything from physical therapy to vehicle modifications, like installing wider rearview mirrors or hand controls for paralysis sufferers.
These recommendations are not shared with any government agency that regulates road safety.
We know that driving helps us maintain independence—something that is especially important to those recovering from a physical illness, experiencing a decline in mental/cognitive abilities or needing modifications—and we’re here to help.
For more information or to schedule a driver evaluation, please call 941-917-7600.
Safe Driving Reminders
- Understand your medications and their side effects
- Stay physically and mentally active to keep your brain and body driving-capable
- Be sure your car is a good fit, with seating that allows you to adjust to see all areas
- Have your vision checked regularly
- Have an annual driver evaluation and schedule one if you have a change in physical or cognitive abilities
- Know the warning signs of poor driving
- Avoid rush-hour traffic and heavily traveled roads; stick to familiar roads
Certified Healthcare Access Manager Wanda Jackson, Sarasota Memorial’s outpatient care coordinator, helps patients and families connect the dots from inpatient care to outpatient services. She also facilitates SMH’s stroke wellness clubs, stroke support groups, Parkinson’s wellness clubs and support groups, and other programs.