Can I drive after a stroke?
Driving is often a major concern after someone has a stroke. It’s not unusual for stroke survivors to want to drive. Being able to get around after a stroke is important. Safety behind the wheel is even more important after a stroke. Injury to the brain may change how you do things. Before you drive again, think carefully about how these changes may affect your safety and that of your family and others.
Often survivors don't realize the difficulties that they might have when driving after a stroke. Some may not know all of the effects of their stroke. They may feel that they’re able to drive, when that's a bad idea. Driving against your doctor’s advice can be dangerous and may be illegal. In some cases, your doctor may have the legal responsibility to notify your state that you’ve been advised not to drive.
How can I tell if I can drive?
Ask your family if they have noticed changes. Those around you may notice changes in your communication, thinking, judgment or behavior that should be evaluated before you drive again. They often have many more opportunities to observe changes than others do.
What are some warning signs of unsafe driving?
If you or someone you know has experienced some of these warning signs of unsafe driving, please consider being tested:
• Drives too fast or too slow for road conditions or posted speeds
• Needs help or instructions from passengers
• Doesn’t observe signs or signals
• Makes slow or poor distance decisions
• Gets easily frustrated or confused
• Often gets lost, even in familiar areas
• Has accidents or near misses
Drifts across lane markings into other lanes
Talk to your doctor or occupational therapist. He or she can tell you about your stroke and whether it might change if you can drive. You’ll also get a professional opinion based on experience.
Get a Driving Evaluation. Professionals such as driver rehabilitation specialists can evaluate your driving ability. You’ll get a behind-the-wheel evaluation and be tested for vision perception, functional ability, reaction time, judgment and cognitive abilities (thinking and problem solving). Call community rehabilitation centers or your local Department of Motor Vehicles for requirements. You may also look for local Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists in your area by visiting http://www.aded.net/.
Enroll in a Driver’s Training Program. For a fee, you may receive a driving assessment, classroom instruction and suggestions for modifying your vehicle (if necessary). These programs are often available through rehabilitation centers, as mentioned above. Additionally, you may choose to contact your State Department of Motor Vehicles. Ask for the Office of Driver Safety to find out what vehicle or training requirements apply to people who’ve had a stroke.
Can I drive after a stroke?
Know your driving equipment options. As more capable technologies and new advances in mobility equipment are made each day, wheelchair accessible vehicles have become more powerful than ever before. These modified vehicle solutions – such as hand controls, pedal extensions, seat bases, lifts and ramps – have changed the lives of countless stroke survivors and people with disabilities.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) provides adaptive transportation solutions for you, your family or caregivers. Through the use of mobility equipment, NMEDA Dealer Members provide independence and the ability to get behind the wheel. With equipment installed by a dealer who participates in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), a wheelchair accessible or modified van, truck or car can provide the assurance you need to feel confident and secure on the road once more.
To search for a NMEDA Dealer Member who modifies vehicles, visit NMEDA..com
- Read about stroke survivor and comedian John Kawie's adventures behind the wheel in Baby I Can Drive My Car.
- Find more tips for daily living.