Severe TBI May Permanently Impair Driving

Car Driving Down Road

severe tbi drivingThe decision to return to driving after a moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury is a difficult one. The skills required to drive safely, such as concentration, problem-solving, reaction time, and anger management, can frequently be impaired as a result of a brain injury. Past research has found that higher scores in certain neuro-psychological assessments (i.e., Trail-Making Test) can help predict readiness to return to driving.

A recent study was conducted to determine predictors of driving behaviors after a traumatic brain injury. The researchers surveyed 184 people who had suffered a moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury to determine their driving behaviors. They found that:

  • People who were older and/or female tended to avoid challenging driving scenarios
  • People with more severe injuries tended to drive less frequently and over shorter distances
  • When people with more severe injuries did drive, they did not tend to avoid challenging driving scenarios

When making a decision to return to drive, families and clinicians should be aware that younger males may be more likely to engage in challenging driving scenarios. Additionally, those with more severe injuries may be less aware of the dangers of challenging driving situations, and may require more extensive supervision or support.

Labbe DR, Vance DE, Wadley V, et al. Predictors of driving avoidance and exposure following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (April 2014).