When patients struggle with vision, physical function, or cognition, driving can become one of the most difficult activities they’ll face in their daily lives.

To help patients overcome this challenge, Mercy Health – Oregon Outpatient Rehabilitation and Therapy is pleased to launch the “On the Road Again” driver evaluation and training program with the help of Yark Automotive Group and the Mercy Health Foundation. 

The “On the Road Again” program is broken into two portions: off-the-road evaluation, and on-the-road evaluation. Using a simulator, the off-road evaluation includes testing of patients’ vision/perception, cognition, and physical abilities to check whether it’s safe for them to get behind the wheel. Once in a vehicle, the on-road evaluation then tests these same skills with the use of specialized equipment to help determine if the driver would need vehicle modifications and training. 

“I am so glad Mercy Health is able to fill this gap in patient services,” said Lynne Chapman, 
Mercy Health – Occupational Therapist and Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. “The people who will be participating in this program will have the opportunity to maintain independence that is critical to their mobility, or determine if they need to explore alternative transportation methods.” 

Supporting the cause, Yark Automotive Group and the Mercy Health Foundation are teaming up to provide necessary equipment needed for patients undergoing the “On the Road Again” program. The Mercy Health Foundation is donating a driving simulator for patients to test their off-road abilities, while Yark Automotive Group is donating a vehicle for patients to use during the on-road evaluation. This vehicle has been fitted for adaptive equipment, including hand controls and evaluator brake services to use during test drives. 

“This is a very generous gift we are fortunate to receive,” said Becky Ford, Mercy Health – Director of Ambulatory Operations. “The generosity from these two groups has made it possible for Mercy Health to provide a program which will promote safety in our communities and independence of our patient population.”

If you think you or a loved one should undergo a driving evaluation, talk to your primary care provider to receive a referral.