Clare McLaughlin, OT, at the Robotic DriveSafety CDS 200

Clare McLaughlin, Occupational Therapist, has taught driver re-education at Bacharach for 27 years. For the past 2 years, she and her colleagues have used the DriveSafety CDS 200 Robotic Driving Simulator to assess outpatients with driver readiness. The DriveSafety incorporated simulated driving tasks in a clinic setting.


Who Should Use the DriveSafety CDS 200?


“Most clients are current outpatients recovering from stroke, brain injury, concussion, spinal cord injury, or a lower extremity amputation.  The simulator can also be used for people who have anxiety about returning to driving. It can help the person increase confidence with driving skills in a safe environment”.


The DriveSafety Simulator has all the features of a vehicle – steering wheel, directional, brake and gas pedals, and three computer screens which simulate the vehicle’s windshield and include rear view and side view mirrors.   This simulator provides the driver with feedback on their visual, cognitive and physical skills to help them decide if they are ready to participate in the formal Driver Evaluation in Bacharach’s Driving Program.  The driver simulator does not take the place of the Driver Program or Driver Evaluation.


Three Phases in the Program


“The simulator includes 3 phases of the driving experience,” said Clare. “Phase 1 concentrates on the basic driving skills, helping the person get re-acclimated operating the steering wheel, gas and brake.  If a person needs adaptive driving equipment such as a spinner knob, left foot accelerator pedal or hand controls to drive, they will begin to learn how to operate the equipment during this phase.”


“Phase 2 progresses the person coordinating the steering wheel, gas and brake to maintain lane position, switch lanes, awareness of traffic, brake reaction and multitasking skills.  The person is challenged by specific driving tasks.  The simulator provides visual information on the person’s performance at the end of each driving task during phase 1 and 2.  The scores are recorded which helps motivate and challenge the person to improve performance when the driving task is repeated.”


“Phase 3 advances the person to “regular driving scenarios” incorporating the basic rules of the road in a residential area, on 2 and 4 lane roads and highway driving.  The person will experience right and left turns controlled by a stop sign or a traffic light, manage speed according to the posted speed limit, navigate through road construction scenes, merge onto highway and yield to oncoming traffic.  This phase challenges the driver operating the vehicle.”


What happens when a driver makes an error in Phase 3?


“If the person makes an error or has a collision, the program stops immediately.  The person and therapist discuss what happened and identify what caused the error to help them have a successful result when the driving task is repeated.”

One reason Clare likes the simulator “it provides the person with objective feedback on their performance with the driving tasks.  The person becomes self-motivated to improve their performance in each phase which increases confidence and excitement looking forward to participating in the formal Driver Evaluation at Bacharach.



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