COVID-19 Information for OT Driving Assessors

We are aware that returning to your role as an occupational therapy driving assessor during the uncertainty of COVID-19 is dependent on many different factors.  As a result, each individual circumstance and case needs to be assessed on its own merit at the point of referral.  The OTA National Driving Taskforce recommend you consider the following key principles document to guide your clinical reasoning. These principles are based on consensus agreement of occupational therapy driving assessors from NSW, QLD and VIC who attended the OT Driver Education meeting on the 22 May 2020 and have national application. If you have any additional queries or concerns please contact info@otaus.com.au 

OT Driver Assessments - Managing COVID 19 Key Principles
OT Driving Assessments - COVID-19 Practice Checklist

Disclaimer: The information provided in these guidelines is current at the date of first publication and is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee can be given that the information is free from error or omission, nor are these guidelines exhaustive of the subject matter. Occupational Therapy Australia expects that occupational therapy driving assessors will abide by the information sources with the relevant licensing authority in their jurisdiction, directions provided by referrers and the relevant health authorities.  Occupational Therapy Australia cannot take responsibility for any misuse or misapplication of these guidelines that may result in any loss or damage (consequential or otherwise) cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information contained in these guidelines and whether caused by reason of any error, negligent act omission or misrepresentation in the guide.

Occupational Therapy Australia has received the following information from local transport authorities. We will continue to update this information as we receive replies from each state and territory. 

ACT Driver Licence Information

All low risk cases will be extended for 6 months. Medium risk cases extended for 90 days and high risk cases will still require medical assessments be submitted to Access Canberra. These drivers cases will be triaged by the RUS Medical Team and maybe referred for clinical assessment if complex in nature.

The RUS Medical team will advise ACT drivers in writing if they may continue to drive or will suspend their right to drive until a clinical or practical OT assessment can be safely conducted after the COVID-19 pandemic passes. Click here for more information.


Service NSW


On Wednesday 1 July, Service NSW re-opened driver testing bookings to all customers across the state.  As driver testing was closed for 3 months, we are experiencing a high demand for the service. To manage this, we've increased the number of tests available and will continue to take the necessary steps to minimise any delay.

More information on priority testing, aged driving tests and overseas licence holders can be found here.


QLD Department of Transport and Main Roads

As of Monday 13 July 2020 practical driving test bookings reopened to all Queenslanders. As health and safety remains the priority, several measures are in place including:

  • mandatory screening for test participants
  • vehicle cleaning requirements
  • reinforcement of general health and hygiene measures.

Further information including health and safety requirements for driving tests is available on the Department's website here. All practical driving tests were suspended from 28 March, to limit the spread of COVID-19 and comply with social distancing recommendations from Queensland Health.


Service SA

Can Motor Driving Instructors continue to work with occupational therapists in car to assist the client achieve driving goals?
If you are a Motor Driving Instructor and the driver training is conducted for fee or reward inside a vehicle and is in any way linked to the issue, retention or lifting of a suspension of a driver’s licence or is in any other way associated with the driver licensing function of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles you are operating as a Motor Driving Instructor and the direction prohibits this activity. In addition as pointed out above Temporary Permits often have a requirement to have a Motor Driving Instructor present, and under the emergency direction this is now prohibited.


TRANSPORT TASMANIA

DRIVING ASSESSMENT BOOKINGS SUSPENDED

The Department is committed to ensuring the safety of clients and staff during the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). At this stage, future bookings either online or at Service Tasmania have been suspended. We will continue to monitor advice from the relevant authorities about this evolving global situation and will immediately open bookings when appropriate to do so.

All current bookings have been cancelled (with no exceptions). Refunds are available upon request – Please email driver.assessment@stategrowth.tas.gov.au, otherwise payment can be used for next booking. When driving assessment services recommence, priority booking will be given to clients who had already booked. The Department will contact affected clients.

Online Driving Assessments
Currently unavailable pending further advice.

Authorised Driving Assessors
Clients should contact external service providers regarding services currently available for L2 and P1 assessments.


VIC ROADS

VicRoads coronavirus (COVID-19) update: 24 September 2020: Relevant for private vehicle, motorcycle and heavy vehicle OTDA clients.

a) General information
Following the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria and based on updated advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), VicRoads has resumed all licence testing in regional Victoria from Monday 21 September. There remains no change to our registration and licensing operations in metropolitan Melbourne until further notice.

The first priority under the resumption in regional Victoria will be to re-book tests for customers whose appointments were postponed on 25 May and 8 July. These customers have been contacted via text message and asked to contact our dedicated 1300 number to re-book their appointment.

We hope to make new appointments available to regional customers in November. No one should be participating in a drive test if they are unwell. For more information about the resumption of licence testing in regional Victoria, visit our coronavirus information page.

b) Hardship and special circumstances
Customers can continue to apply for approval for light vehicle drive tests and computer-based licence testing under our hardship and special circumstances policy within both regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne. These tests will continue to be conducted at all Customer Service Centres across Victoria and will be scheduled at the customer’s nearest CSC where possible. Stringent health and safety measures will continue to apply for these tests.

Medical Review
Medical review driving tests remain suspended throughout Victoria (as our testing staff typically move frequently between metropolitan and regional areas). Requests for medical reports will continue to be deferred. We anticipate medical review driving tests and requests for medical reports will resume once licence testing resumes in metropolitan Melbourne, in line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Impacts for our providers and industry partners
We understand that the majority of businesses have been operating as usual in regional Victoria, subject to relevant COVIDSafe principles and requirements, and that this will continue under the easing of restrictions. There will be no change for our providers and partners within metropolitan Melbourne until further notice, with the exception of motorcycle and heavy vehicle training and assessment providers (see changes outlined on the industry partner page of our website).

All businesses must continue to keep staff and customers safe. An explanation of the workplace obligations for businesses in Victoria to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here. Unless an exception applies, face coverings must be worn.

We recommend you continue to check the advice provided on the Department of Human Services website, the roadmap to re-opening on the Victorian Government website and the Business Victoria website to ensure you are meeting all your legal obligations.

We know the suspension of testing has been difficult and thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we begin resuming drive testing and work towards rescheduling appointments.

c) Information for OTDAs
The postponement of requests for occupational therapy driving assessments will continue throughout Victoria until further notice. We anticipate that we will resume referring customers to undertake OTDAs once licence testing resumes in metropolitan Melbourne, in line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Where customers are required to undertake an OTDA, we may defer their assessment for a minimum period of 3 months and provide them a 'conditional licence' with restrictions, while waiting for their on-road assessment.  This will be based on a case-by-case assessment of their road safety risk profile. Examples of conditional licence restrictions include: 

  • a driving radius from home
  • no freeway driving
  • no night driving.

If the customer has previously been issued with a conditional licence with restrictions, these conditions will remain until they undertake and pass the Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment, following the easing of restrictions.

Occupational Therapists will need to carefully consider whether they provide Occupational Therapy Driving Assessments to existing customers at this time. We recommend you continue to check the advice provided on the Department of Human Services website, the roadmap to re-opening on the Victorian Government website and the Business Victoria website to ensure you are complying with all current restrictions and meeting all your legal obligations.

If you have completed an off-road assessment but cannot complete an on-road assessment at the current time, please submit your off-road assessment results to Medical Review as this will support our risk assessment process.

If you have a customer who has previously been contacted by VicRoads requesting an occupational therapy driving assessment, we recommended you or your customer contact VicRoads to seek an extension of the report due date.

If you have chosen not to conduct OTDAs at this time, we recommend advising your customers so they can make suitable arrangements, including contacting VicRoads to seek an extension of the due date if an assessment cannot be completed. Extension requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the VicRoads Medical Review team.

Regionally-based Occupational Therapists considering a return to OTDAs for regional-based customers, should contact VicRoads Medical Review team to seek clearance for each customer, as per usual practice.

d) Information provided to motorcycle and heavy vehicle training and assessment providers
VicRoads has received updated advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) relating to the provision of motorcycle and heavy vehicle training and assessment in Victoria. Providers operating within metropolitan Melbourne, may now extend services to the following participants:

  • a person with a ‘work permit’ from a ‘permitted industry’: these participants must provide a copy of their worker permit, as per the current process.  We recommend Providers keep a copy of each participant’s worker permit to verify the participant is meeting this requirement in the event of any auditing or compliance checks.
  • a person seeking future employment in a permitted industry, but not yet employed: these job seekers must have a ‘work permit’ which they can issue themselves for seeking employment in a permitted industry (i.e. the equivalent of a statutory declaration). By making the work permit declaration, they are committing to the use of the qualification for work in a permitted industry, and they should note the penalties for false declarations.  

Motorcycle and heavy vehicle training and assessment in regional Victoria may continue, subject to relevant COVIDSafe principles and requirements. Participants who live within regional areas should seek a course within their local area: they do not need to provide you with a worker permit.

Return to service for providers
VicRoads anticipates that motor cycle and heavy vehicle training providers will be able to return to full return from 26 October 2020, subject to 'trigger points' being met and public health advice. We will keep providers updated as we hear more from DHHS and Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR).  

Extension for motorcycle learner permits
We are applying a six-month expiry date extension for all motorcycle learner permits that expire between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. We previously provided an extension for all motorcycle learner permits that expired between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 initially, and then more recently for those expiring between 1 October and 31 October 2020. 

Participants should still have time to complete their training and obtain their licence before their permit expires. If you have a client who is concerned about a permit expiry date that is after 31 October 2020, please encourage them to email APSenquiries@roads.vic.gov.au to discuss their concerns.


Department of Transport (DoT)

The Department of Transport (DoT) is continuing to conduct Practical Driving Assessments (PDA) and will prioritise appointments for those who require a licence for freight tasks, medical reasons and work purposes.

Process

DoT will prioritise any available PDA bookings to customers who require a driver’s licence for the following reasons:

  • Employment.
  • Essential services.
  • Medical reasons.

If any of your customers have an upcoming PDA booking and do not require a driver’s licence for one of the above reasons, we request that they consider postponing their PDA. Once the current health crisis is resolved, candidates who have cancelled bookings will be prioritised for PDA appointments.

Motorcycle and heavy vehicle PDA assessments are not impacted. Thank you for your patience and for working with us during the current situation.

Further information
The DoT Customer Contact Centre can be contacted for any queries regarding the above instructions on 13 11 56.

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