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What is a Formal Driving Assessment?

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A formal driving assessment tests your ability to operate a vehicle safely. These tests typically take two to three hours. While programs vary, there’s usually a road test, along with a cognitive, physical, and vision assessment.

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Formal driving assessments are usually administered to senior drivers. Despite stereotypes, older drivers tend to obey traffic laws, exercise safety precautions, and be more conscientious on the road than their juniors. However, some age-related issues — such as memory problems, slower reaction times, and the loss of visual acuity — may make it tough for seniors to stay safe while driving.

Reasons to consider a formal driving assessment

  • If you’ve recently suffered from a stroke or other health condition that has kept you off the road, a formal driving assessment may help determine the impact it had on your ability to drive.
  • If you’ve recently been diagnosed with early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, an assessment may prove that you’re still fit to drive.
  • If your loved ones have been pressuring you to give up driving, but you disagree, a formal driving assessment can help prove your fitness to drive.
  • If you feel less confident in your driving due to a loss of vision, physical limitations, or slowed reaction time, a driving assessment may help give you feedback and pointers to help you maintain your independence.

Perks of taking a formal driving assessment

Once you’ve completed the test, your assessor may give you helpful feedback. If needed, you may be prescribed assistive equipment to help you keep your independence. For instance, panoramic mirrors can make it easier to see vehicles in your blind spot, especially if you have trouble turning your neck. If you have trouble climbing into or out of your vehicle, a prescribed seat lift can help make your life easier and prevent injuries.

Where to take a formal driving assessment

Your local hospital or Veterans Administration may be able to help you find a local assessor. Your local office on aging or your state’s department of motor vehicles may also offer programs to assess your driving.

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Sources: AARP, Consumer Reports