Return to driving is an issue of great interest to those with moderate-severe TBI, because it is a marker for independence. In the US it is often difficult to live independently, seek employment, and socialize without being able to drive. Quality of life, on average, is better for those who are able to return to driving after TBI.

TBI can cause difficulties with sensory functioning, physical abilities, and cognitive abilities that can affect driving capability. Therefore, return to driving following significant TBI must be carefully considered.
  • Having a significant TBI does not necessarily preclude driving. If a person has received inpatient care at a rehabilitation facility, such as UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center, the issue of driving has likely been addressed and the person can be referred back to that facility if there are questions regarding return to driving.
  • Research regarding safety in returning to driving after TBI is very limited, with some studies indicating there is increased risk and other indicating there is not.

It is important that practitioners be aware of state law regarding driving after TBI, ways of assessing driving readiness, and typical patterns of driving after TBI to better advise those with TBI and family members.

Novack, T.A., BaƱos, J.H., Alderson, A.L., Schneider, J.J., Weed, W., Blankenship, J., Salisbury, D. (2006). UFOV performance and driving ability following traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 20, 455-462.

Novack, T.A., Labbe, D.R, Grote, M., Carlson, N., Sherer, M., Arango-Lasprilla, J.C., Bushnik, T., Cifu, D., Powell, J.M., Ripley, D., Seel, R. T. (2010). Return to driving within five years of moderate-severe traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 24, 464-471.

Labbe, D.R., Vance, D.E., Wadley, V., Novack, T.A. (2014). Predictors of driving avoidance and exposure following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 29, 185-192.