Clare McLaughlin, OTR/L shows an OPTEC ® Vision Tester with contrast sensitivity which measures visual acuity during the Pre-Driver evaluation
The Bacharach Driver program is one of only eight programs in the tri-state area that assesses a client’s driving skills through both a Pre-Driver and Behind the Wheel Evaluation/Training.
The Pre-Driver evaluation measures vision, motor skills, reaction time and cognitive skills. The Behind the Wheel Evaluation/Training measures the client’s ability to safely and independently perform basic driving skills in a variety of road situations utilizing Bacharach’s adapted driving vehicle.
“Our vehicle can accommodate clients with physical limitations,” said Clare McLaughlin, OTR/L, Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist, Outpatient Occupational Therapist. “If clients do not have use of their legs, I can train them using hand controls to operate the gas and brake. If they only have use of one arm a spinner knob is attached to the steering wheel for improved control of the wheel. If they only have use of the left foot, a left foot accelerator extension pedal is attached for control using gas and brake. The equipment recommendations are determined during the Pre-Driver Evaluation, and then clients will participate in three or more hours of Behind the Wheel Training to use the equipment. We evaluate and train clients with or without equipment based on their needs.”
The driver program assists previous drivers and first time drivers as well. Some clients are seniors whose children worry that their driving skills have begun to fade.
Others are teenagers and young adults who have not driven before due to various developmental issues. Typical driving schools are not equipped to handle the equipment modifications or address visual, perceptual and cognitive remediation to assist them to drive a vehicle safely.
Once the client successfully completes the Behind the Wheel Training, the final step is successfully completing the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission Road Test to restore their driver’s license.
“Our clients are relieved because this program helps them become independent with driving again,” said Sharon Cressman, OTR/L, Outpatient Occupational Therapist. “They are able to get back to work and daily routines without having to rely on family members to drive them around.”