What Happens During a Comprehensive Driving Evaluation?

Beth Tracton-Bishop, Ph.D.

If you or someone you know is considering having a driving evaluation, here are some details of what happens during the evaluation.

The entire evaluation typically takes two to three hours. It’s a one-on-one session and covers a lot of territory, since the evaluation takes into account how you handle every aspect of the driving task.

Here’s what you can expect:

1.  A clinical evaluation – which will involve a variety of cognitive, visual and physical tests
  • Vision. You may be asked to take tests that evaluate many aspects of your vision. For example, depth perception helps determine a safe following distance and informs decisions related to making a safe left-hand turn. In addition, contrast sensitivity is critical to your ability to detect other vehicles or pedestrians, particularly in low light or at dusk.
  • Cognition. These tests measure your judgment and memory, your ability to follow instructions, and the speed with which your brain reacts. They can help assess clinical driving functions and help to predict whether your brain processes information quickly enough to help you react to an unexpected event in time to avoid an accident.
  • Motor Function. This assessment covers the most physical parts of driving. It measures your strength, flexibility and endurance for a particular driving task, such as moving from the gas to the brake pedal or looking over your shoulder before you change lanes.
2.  An on-the-road test – this should be offered as part of the service you are receiving (if you are not given an on-the-road test during your evaluation, be sure to ask why it was excluded)

3.  Oral feedback and/or a written report –on the results of your evaluation

Here’s a list of questions to ask of driving evaluation program if you are considering going for a driving evaluation.


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Beth Tracton-Bishop, PhD, Director of Research and Gerontologist at The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, is responsible for developing and executing qualitative and quantitative research studies related to older driver safety, home design and family transitions, with a focus on translating research findings to consumer based information and public education campaigns.

She also leads the center’s social media strategy, and is the micro-blogger for twitter.com/TheHartfordCMME.

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