How Do Brain Injuries Impact Driving Skills?

brain injury impact driving skillsWhen an individual suffers any form of brain injury, it has the potential to leave chronic, lasting side effects on the patient and their family for the rest of their life. These side effects may make it difficult for the individual to drive safely, placing themselves and others at risk if they get behind the wheel of a car. Because these injuries can range widely in their severity, it can be difficult to decide who is able to drive following a cerebral event. 

What are Some of the Long-Term Effects of Brain Injuries?

When people experience a traumatic brain injury, there is a wide variety of symptoms that they might experience. It is these symptoms combined with imaging (such as an MRI) that will help to diagnose a brain injury. The type of brain injury will dictate the treatment; however, there are a number of long-term effects of these brain injuries that can seriously impact the patient and their loved ones for years to come. Among these long-term effects are:

  • Vision Impairment: Images are received by the eyes and project backward onto the brain. The images are received and interpreted in the brain for the person to process. If the brain has been damaged, someone could lose vision in some or all of their visual field. Some people lose vision in one eye while others lose either the peripheral or central fields of their eyes. Some people could lose their vision entirely.
  • Memory Impairment: A patient could also suffer from memory loss. There are many different types of memories, including short and long-term memory loss. Some people may also lose their prior memories while other patients could lose the ability to form new memories.
  • Chronic Pain: The brain is the clearinghouse for all of the neurological signals of the body. This includes the pain receptors which transmit their signals to the brain for interpretation. It is possible for a patient to suffer from chronic, debilitating pain that could impact them for the rest of their lives.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Patients can develop a wide range of cognitive impairments after a serious brain injury. For example, patients could lose the ability to converse effectively with other people, coordinate their motor skills, or exercise proper judgment. A traumatic brain injury could seriously impact their relationships with their friends and family for the long-term.
The Results of the Research Study

A team of medical professionals conducted an extensive search of the existing literature surrounding auto accidents and brain injuries. The researchers found over thirty different articles that examined the neurological damage and the impact it has on driving ability. After carefully looking through the articles, they found that no set methodology exists for examining the cognitive function and driving ability. This is a problem because people who have lost cognitive function may not be able to drive effectively.

The researchers assumed that these tests should be conducted to examine their ability to maintain attention on the road, ability to process visual and spatial clues, and their ability to perform executive functions. The article ends by discussing the importance of conducting an assessment of driving skills on the road. This is vital because it provides an objective way of assessing readiness to drive following a serious injury. While this may be a challenge to implement, putting a test in place will help the patient and other people on the road remain in safe hands.

The Implications for the Future

When someone is thinking about driving following a traumatic brain injury, it is important to carefully consider their abilities for their own safety and the safety of others. More research is needed on what types of brain injuries predispose people to drive unsafely and which types do not. For example, someone who has sustained significant damage to the cognitive areas of their brain may not be able to process signals from the outside quick enough to take evasive action on the road. Other people may have lost a significant amount of their motor function and have trouble pressing the pedals and turning the wheel.

There are also people who might have changes in their judgment that could cause them to make poor decisions on the road. When someone has suffered serious brain damage, it is important to take some time to assess their driving abilities; however, the wide range of brain injuries can make this assessment difficult. 

The video below features a young man with traumatic brain injury who is learning how to drive again.

Sacramento Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. If you've been injured in an accident, reach out to our experienced injury attorneys for free, friendly advice at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See a list of our past cases on our verdicts and settlements page and our client reviews on Avvo, Yelp, Google.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 11.24.20]

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani from Pexels

:dr [cs 952] 

Client Reviews
"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
"Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime." Jeremy M.
"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
"Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury." David M.