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Driver Generalist vs. Driver Specialist

Did you know?

By 2020 – 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older?

By 2030- The number of Americans 65 and older will have doubled

By 2050 – The worlds population of older people will exceed the population of children. It is predicted that every man and 90% of women will enter there retirement years as drivers.

Motor vehicle crashes are the second highest cause of deaths among people older than 65  (2004 National Center for Health Statistics)

READ BELOW for more information on driver evaluations and a comparison of driver generalist versus specialist and how these roles can work together.

What do you need to drive?
Physical Cognitive Visual
Neck Rotation

Upper body Motion and Strength

Upper body coordination

Upper body Proprioception

Lower body Motion and Strength

Balance (sitting/standing)

Grip and Pinch Strength

Sensation in the hands and feet

Ability to recall directions

Maintain focus on subskills of driving

Refrain from getting distracted

Balance Emotions when driving


Contrast Sensitivity

Visual Field

Distance Acuity (20/40 in one eye)

Color Discrimination


Visual Pursuits



Driver Evaluations

I have a client who needs a driver evaluation but I don’t know who is the best resource. What are the recommendations about driver assessments and the laws in my states? Here is a break down of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. It is important to know the laws in your state as they apply to driving before you make an recommendations to your clients.

If you are looking to incorporate driving into your practice as a driver generalist I highly recommend following up with the latest guides from AOTA and your state regulations. Another benefit would be partnering with The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists for training and educational programs.

What is a Driver Generalist?

A generalist completes a comprehensive occupational therapy driver evaluation to assess all aspects of the driving task. Due to the nature of the evaluation, it is

generally 2–3 hours of one-on-one time with the occupational therapy

professional. Although variations exist among programs, all quality

evaluations include assessments of vision, cognition, and motor func-

tion. In addition, a medical, driving, and social history are included. (AOTA, Older driver primer)


The On Road Assessment


A driver specialist can perform the entirety of the driver evaluation, both clinical and on the road or simply the on road assessment following a clinical evaluation by a driver generalist. While there is not a standardized technique for the on road assessment it compiles the motoring part of driving  also problem-solving, judgment, and an ability to integrate with traffic (AOTA driver primer).


Follow this page over the next month for our review of OT Generalist Vs. Driver Rehab Specialist, Driver Evaluations information for ALL ages, and a review of what to expect from a driver evaluation.

*This information is presented as a resource and I am not endorsing one driving service over another. As a clinician you must choose the best options for your clients.

Julia McVicker,

Founder, OT Collective

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Am I safe to drive?

The question that echoes across rehab hospitals and outpatient centers following a major health change. The sound of teenagers and adults with disabilities. This is a hot topic among therapists across the nation and this month we will explore the role and services offered by Driver Services.

There is no task in our day more complicated and dangerous than driving. The right to drive is sacred and often we take for granted that we can grab our keys and hit the road at a moments notice. Sadly the systems in place to support transportation for those who cannot drive are often expensive and spotty depending on locations. Therefore it is a heated topic for clients and families. Many families are concerned about a loved ones driving but torn because they cannot provide transportation daily for the family member. Driving represents freedom for many clients and temporarily or permanently removing these privileges creates discord in a household. How can we help as clinicians? How do we support our physicians by providing them with an assessment of client factors related to driving?

Last month,  I went to the meeting of the ADED (The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists) in South Carolina. This group of skilled clinicians involves members from Georgia and South Carolina. Currently in Georgia there are 25 Driver Rehab Specialists with 12 Certified Driver Rehab Specialists across a variety of healthcare settings. In South Carolina there are 10 Driver Rehab Specialists and 7 Certified Driver Rehab Specialists. For a complete list of your state use the search engine at ADED.NET (Click HERE for LINK).