Lifeline for Drivers

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News September 2013

The ability to drive gives people with disabilities a wider range of opportunities.

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While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees equal opportunity in many aspects of public life, having access to some form of transportation is perhaps the most life-altering right.

However, all forms of transportation are not necessarily equal … or accessible. The ability to drive a vehicle can give people with disabilities a wider range of opportunities to seek outside employment and fulfill basic needs such as grocery shopping, etc.

ADED, The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, promotes safe, independent community mobility for people with disabilities as well as individuals who are aging and at greater risk for a disability.

The organization is believed to be the only group in North America to train and offer a pool of highly qualified professionals with the designation of Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS), the accepted benchmark for quality in driver evaluation and education for people with disabilities. 

Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task that involves more than the physical ability to operate controls. Adequate vision, integrated reflexes, and appropriate cognitive skills are required to process what a person sees and how he or she reacts in a manner quick enough to ensure safe, efficient decisions behind the wheel.

Driver training for a person with a disability is frequently provided after a thorough driver evaluation. This evaluation generally consists of two assessments: clinical and behind-the-wheel.

The evaluation process typically tests physical function, vision, perception, attention, motor function, and reaction time, in addition to actual driving performance. Evaluation results determine if adaptive driving equipment is needed, whether the individual has the ability to drive independently or at all, and whether he or she requires driver rehabilitation or training. 

Recommended vehicle adaptations could include lifts; ramps; custom seating; steering devices, such as spinner knobs and other specially-designed handles for the steering wheel; hand controls; foot pedal extensions; special mirrors; extenders and extensions for dash controls; and other adaptive tools. 

To locate a CDRS or a local evaluation center, visit or call 866-672-9466.


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Lifeline for Drivers


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