Objective: To characterise on-road driving performance in individuals with traumatic brain injury who fail on-road driving assessment, compared with both those who pass assessment and healthy controls, and the injury and cognitive factors associated with driving performance. Study design: Cross-sectional. Methods: Forty eight participants with traumatic brain injury (Age M = 40.50 SD = 14.62, 77% male, post-traumatic amnesia days M = 28.74 SD =27.68) and 48 healthy matched controls completed a standardised on-road driving assessment in addition to cognitive measures. Results: Individuals with traumatic brain injury who passed on-road driving assessment performed no differently from controls while individuals with traumatic brain injury who failed the assessment demonstrated significantly worse driving performance relative to controls across a range of driving manoeuvres and error types including observation of on-road environment, speed control, gap selection, lane position, following distance and basic car control. Longer time post-injury and reduced visual perception were both significantly correlated with reduced driving skills. Conclusions: This exploratory study indicated that drivers with traumatic brain injury who failed on-road assessment demonstrated a heterogeneous pattern of impaired driving manoeuvres, characterised by skill deficits across both operational (e.g., basic car control and lane position) and tactical domains (e.g., following distance, gap selection, and observation) of driving. These preliminary findings can be used for implementation of future driving assessments and rehabilitation programs.Implications for rehabilitationClinicians should be aware that the majority of individuals with traumatic brain injury were deemed fit to resume driving following formal on-road assessment, despite having moderate to very severe traumatic brain injuries.Drivers with traumatic brain injury who failed an on-road assessment demonstrated a heterogeneous pattern of impaired skills including errors with observation, speed regulation, gap selection, and vehicle control and accordingly had difficulty executing a diverse range of common driving manoeuvres.Comprehensive, formal on-road assessments, incorporating a range of skills, and manoeuvres, are needed to evaluate readiness to return to driving following traumatic brain injury.Individually tailored driver rehabilitation programs need to address these heterogeneous skill deficits to best support individuals to make a successful return to driving post-traumatic brain injury.
- on-road driving
- Traumatic brain injury