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DriveSafe DriveAware (DSDA) iPad-based Version (2015)

Lynnette G. Kay & Anita C. Bundy

Assess Cognitive Fitness to Drive

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Age range: 18 years to 99 years

Qualification level: B

Year: 2015

Administration time: 10 - 15 Minutes

Administration type: Individual, iPad Administration

"I found the app extremely useful and easy to use. The audio is loud and clear, and the instructions are also very clear. I like the way it generates such a clear report and feedback as well.
My client and his wife found the report/feedback very useful in determining the next step in the process of returning to driving."

Bec Jarrott | Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist

Driving is an integral part of most adults’ lives and the question of cognitive fitness to drive in patients with dementia, stroke, brain injury or other neurological conditions is both difficult and emotive.  

In the past, however, research shows that health professionals have been asked to make recommendations regarding fitness to drive without reliable or ecologically valid assessment tools to guide them, which makes the assessment and delivery of a decision to a patient very difficult.

DriveSafe DriveAware (DSDA) is designed to bridge this gap. DSDA is an objective, an evidence-based measure of cognitive fitness to drive that accurately predicts driving ability for older and/or cognitively impaired patients.

DSDA is a cognitive screening tool that measures a driver’s awareness of the driving environment and their own abilities related to driving. The test can be used with any patient whose ability to manage the cognitive aspects of driving may be impaired by a medical condition, injury, or the aging process. DSDA has excellent sensitivity and specificity and performance accurately predict which patients require an on-road assessment, and which patients are most likely to pass or fail such an assessment.  

This user-friendly iPad app is designed for use by any health professional responsible for making decisions about cognitive fitness-to-drive including occupational therapists, psychologists, general practitioners, neurologists and other health and rehabilitation professionals. The app can also be used to monitor cognitive fitness to drive over time in the case of degenerative conditions. Occupational therapists that specialise in driver assessment and rehabilitation can utilise the touch screen DSDA as part of their off-road assessment of fitness to drive.


Register to download the DriveSafe DriveAware research summary >

Get Your Free Trial!

Trying DriveSafe DriveAware is easy:

  1. Register with Pearson Clinical. Register Here >  or Log In Here >
  2. While you're logged in, visit the DSDA page and click on the Free Trial banner at the top (You can only see the banner once you are logged in)
  3. Read and accept the relevant policies and licence agreement.
  4. Check your inbox for an email with step by instructions on how to get started

Then, search for “DriveSafe DriveAware” on the App Store and download the app directly onto your iPad. Log in using the account details you set up when you registered.

You're ready to trial DSDA!

Your free trial allows you to practice using the test as many times as you like but you will only be able to score the test and generate a report for one (1) patient. To order additional report usages, go to the Items & Pricing section and add the required number of usages to your cart. 

DriveSafe DriveAware

  • Provides health professionals with an objective, standardised screening tool that offers a consistent way to assess fitness to drive in any clinical setting
  • Ensures your fitness to drive assessment is accurate and is a superior predictor of on-road driving performance than currently available tools and methods.
  • Developed specifically for predicting driving, DSDA has excellent ecological validity which means you can be confident that it approximates the real-world that is being examined.
  • Fitness to drive is an emotive issue, and DSDA provides an impartial report that can help health professionals with objective discussions over a potential loss of  license.
  • Has been designed to deliver a user-friendly experience, easily administered in around 10 minutes.
  • Provides automatic scoring and report generation with clear guidance about appropriate next steps for your patient: likely to pass, likely to fail or appropriate for referral for an on-road assessment
  • Developed by occupational therapists at the University of Sydney experienced in driver assessment and rehabilitation.


For more than 25 years, researchers have examined clinical tests that can accurately predict driving performance without taking drivers on road. The computer-based predecessor to DriveSafe DriveAware had been shown to have sufficient sensitivity and specificity to accurately predict on-road performance and has been used by occupational therapists in clinical assessment of fitness to drive for over 20 years. In 2015, this version was converted to an easy-to-use touch screen app that can be administered by a broader range of medical professionals to enable them to quickly screen patients for fitness to drive in the clinic.

To establish that the new touch screen version of DSDA retained the strong psychometric properties and predictive capacity of the computer test, we conducted a large prospective validity study. We tested the use of the touch screen DSDA with 134 older (60+ years) and/or cognitively impaired (18+ years) drivers across Australia and New Zealand. Performance on DSDA was compared with the outcome of a standardised on-road occupational therapy driving assessment to determine the optimal cut scores. The results of this study demonstrated the clinical utility of the new touch screen version of DSDA for predicting on-road performance with excellent accuracy. DSDA has Specificity of 86% and Sensitivity of 91%. Positive Predictive Value was 83%, Negative Predictive Value 92%, and overall Accuracy of Classification of 88%. 

Register to download the DriveSafe DriveAware research summary >


DriveSafe DriveAware University Teaching and Research Support

Pearson is excited to support teaching and research with this tool within Universities. Please complete the form (see link below) to let us know how you would like to use DSDA, and one of our Consultants will be in touch to discuss the details with you.

Complete the University Teaching and Research Support application > 


Ongoing Research Using DriveSafe DriveAware

The CEDAR Study

George Institute of Global Health

DriveSafe DriveAware (DSDA) for iPad is being administered to drivers currently waiting for cataract surgery in public hospitals in Sydney. Cataract is a leading cause of vision loss in older people and cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in Australia. Cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye and reduces contrast sensitivity or the ability to distinguish the details of an object against a background.  Reduced contrast sensitivity can influence driving ability as driving relies heavily on visual cues.  Our previous research has shown that performance on the DriveSafe DriveAware is also impacted by contrast sensitivity (Allan et al., 2015).  The aim of this longitudinal study will be to measure driving ability using the DriveSafe DriveAware before and after surgery. This is part of a larger project examining the impact of cataract vision impairment on driving habits and driving ability using both in-vehicle monitoring and a driving simulator.

Allan, C., Coxon, K., Bundy, A., Peattie, L., Keay, L. DriveSafe and DriveAware Assessment Tools Are a Measure of Driving-Related Function and Predicts Self-Reported Restriction for Older Drivers. Journal of Applied Gerontology. Published online before print February 26, 2015, doi:10.1177/0733464815570666

Cognitive Training in Adults

The University of Sydney.

Principal Investigator: Damian Birney

Some recent research has supported the malleability of cognitive functions following computerised cognitive training under some conditions and for some populations. A key limitation of this research, however, has been the lack of a clear model of the psychological processes underlying change. The aim of this research is to study a range of behavioural outcomes based on a theoretically derived model of change following cognitive training. Forty volunteers will be recruited through ABC's online brain training program, Active Memory. Training includes 15 minutes of online cognitive training six days a week for four weeks, in an unsupervised setting (e.g., at home on their own computers). Before and after training, participants will complete a number of tests to assess whether behavioural changes occur following training. DriveSafe DriveAware will be used as a pre- and post-training assessment of memory and attention in an everyday cognitive task.

Lynette Kay, PhD worked as an occupational therapy driving assessor and educator for more than 12 years. She managed the Driver Rehabilitation & Fleet Safety Services at the University of Sydney for 7 years. Dr. Kay completed her doctorate in 2009, developing the original driver-screening tool DriveSafe DriveAware (DSDA). She currently works in Ethiopia for the UK-based charity Retrak,

Anita Bundy is Chair of Occupational Therapy at the University of Sydney. She is known internationally for her work in occupational therapy assessment and intervention. She has more than 25 years’ experience in the development and evaluation of tests used by healthcare professionals.

We also worked with the following experts to develop this robust, accurate tool:

  • Beth Cheal – Beth is a driver-trained occupational therapist and driving instructor. She has completed a Bachelor and Master's of Applied Sciences in Occupational Therapy and is a PhD Candidate (USyd). Beth has worked in driver rehabilitation for 15 years and has conducted training for health professionals in this area since 2005. Beth currently runs Rehab on Road and was the Project Manager responsible for developing DSDA touch screen
  • Dr. Ann-Helen Patomella, Karolinska Institute (Sweden) – Occupational therapist, research and author of P-Drive. Dr Patomella provided advice on the  research design and standardisation of the on-road driving assessment process.
  • Joan O’Donnell – Occupational Therapist PhD Candidate at the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University, for her assistance in the development phase of DSDA for iPad.

DSDA Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the assessment take?

The test time is approximately 10 minutes, depending on the patient and whether or not the optional Intersection Rules subtests is included. The clinician interview takes approximately 3 to 5 minutes to administer.

How is it administered?

DSDA was designed so that most items can be self-administered by the majority of patients. The DriveSafe subtest, two of the seven DriveAware subtest questions, and the optional Intersection Rules subtest, can all be completed independently under supervision. Visual stimulus are presented on the iPad, and accompanied by oral instructions. Examinees touch the screen to indicate their responses. Demonstration and practice items are included to ensure that the examinee is able to use the application confidently before testing begins. The remaining five questions from the DriveAware subtest are completed in a brief interview with a general practitioner or health professional, who also generates the report (see Product Resources for a sample).

Who can DriveSafe DriveAware be used with?

DriveSafe DriveAware is designed for use with any adult whose cognitive capacity for driving may be impaired by a medical condition, injury or the ageing process. It is not designed for use with Learner Drivers. All patients with physical deficits that could impact the ability to operate car controls should be referred for an occupational therapy driving assessment.

Who Can Administer DSDA?

Only general practitioners, medical specialists, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech pathologists and physiotherapists may administer DSDA and interpret the test results. A practice nurse may administer the initial portion of the test under the direction of a registered medical practitioner.

Can DriveSafe DriveAware be administered using Android?

Currently, the touch screen DSDA is only available on iPad. 

Downloading DSDA

To use DSDA, you must first register as a test user with Pearson Clinical Assessment, click here to register >

After registering you will receive a confirmation email confirming your username and password for your Pearson Clinical Assessment Online Account.

Download the DSDA App from the Apple® App Store directly onto your iPad.

Then you log into the DSDA app with the user name and password you created on registration.

Purchasing Reports

To purchase report usages, log into your Pearson Clinical Assessment Online Account, and then add the required number of report usages to your cart - the same way as you would on any other ordering website. Then follow the prompts to finalise your transaction.

Once your reports have been purchased your DSDA account on your app will be automatically updated with your new reports (to ensure that your reports are automatically uploaded, you will need to be connected to the internet via WiFi).

Report usages allow you to administer, score and report on the assessment outcome. You can administer or practice the test without report usages, but you will not receive results or a report.

Hardware Requirements

To administer the test as it was standardised, you will need access to the following equipment/hardware:

  •          iPad with iOS operating system 7 or later (an iPad mini or iPhone cannot be used)
  •          Tablet stand angled to 20 degrees
  •          Stylus (optional depending on patient preference and ease of use)
  •          Headphones (optional, depending on sound distractions in the room, hearing impairment, and patient preference)
  •          Desk or table
  •          Suitable upright chair (e.g. office or kitchen chair)

Apple, iPad, iPad mini and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Still fit to drive? Using the DriveSafe DriveAware app to guide decision making when cognitive fitness to drive is in question
Following medical events such as CVA, brain injury or a diagnosis of dementia, one of the first questions asked by clients is "when can I drive again?" This webinar will provide an overview of DriveSafe DriveAware, a quick and easy-to-use iPad app that predicts a person's performance in an OT on-road driving assessment, as well as applications of the test when informing other members of the multi-disciplinary team such as GPs, neurologists and geriatricians.
View the webinar


DriveSafe DriveAware (DSDA) Research Round-up
In this webinar, we will take a closer look at some of the research that has utilised the DriveSafe DriveAware screening app and explore how the research findings support the assessment's use in clinical practice. 
View the webinar


Exploring the clinical validity of DriveSafe DriveAware through case studies
There are a variety of applications and clinical uses for the DriveSafe DriveAware screening tool. In this webinar, we will briefly review the tool itself and then look at how it might be used in different clinical settings by delving into some case studies.
View the slides     View the webinar


DriveSafe DriveAware - New research using DriveSafe DriveAware when measuring outcomes after cerebrovascular neurosurgery
Join guest presenter Joan O'Donnell for a discussion about DriveSafe DriveAware and its role in her research. Joan is currently an Associate Lecturer at the University of Sydney School of Occupational Therapy and a PhD student at Macquarie University.
View the webinar


DriveSafe DriveAware - a screening tool for all OTs working with adults
This app allows non-driver-trained OTs to screen clients to determine whether they should pursue the more costly step of an on-road assessment. This webinar will review the clinical implementation of this tool with some case study examples.
View the webinar