Learn about physical abilities, health conditions and driving

Physical abilities needed to drive safely include:

  • Reflexes to respond quickly to sudden changes and unexpected situations

  • Arm, hand and leg strength to work pedals, shifters and other controls

  • Good blood circulation so that the muscles, brain and eyes work well

People with physical limitations can drive safely with car modifications, such as:

  • Steering devices

  • Hand controls for gas and brakes

  • Left-foot accelerators

  • Adjustable foot pedals

  • Wide view mirrors

Occupational therapists can do comprehensive driving evaluations and suggest car modifications, driving strategies and other ways to increase driving safely.

Some health conditions have physical effects that can make driving difficult, including:

  • Arthritis, which can reduce flexibility, limit movement, slow reaction times and cause pain that makes concentrating difficult

  • Diabetes, which can affect vision, weaken muscles and reflexes in the legs and feet, and cause sleepiness, light-headedness and confusion

  • Parkinson's disease, which can weaken balance, reduce muscle control and slow reaction times

  • Irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias, which can cause light-headedness and confusion

Health professionals can explain how health conditions might affect driving and help people manage chronic conditions well, so that they can keep driving safely.