Driving after a Concussion

After a concussion

If you’ve suffered a concussion, you know just how much the injury has impacted your life. Unfortunately, driving is no exception.

You might be chomping at the bit to get back to some sort of normalcy, but in order to keep yourself and others safe, you need to take it slow when getting back behind the wheel.

Is it safe to drive?

A concussion can affect your ability to drive. If you haven’t completely recovered, there’s an increased chance you’ll have an accident. The tricky part is there’s no return to driving protocol, after suffering a concussion. This leaves people confused with what the next steps are and how they can go about returning to their normal driving activity.

So how does a concussion affect driving?

Driving is a complex activity. It requires you to do a lot of thinking. When you have a concussion, your brain has been injured. And just like an injured leg makes it harder to walk, an injured brain makes it harder to think. It makes controlling your vehicle and identifying hazards much more difficult. Since driving is so cognitively demanding, it can trigger symptoms or cause issues your brain just can’t handle. Driving while not fully recovered, can even be compared to driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Should I stop driving if I’ve had a concussion?

Absolutely! You should not get behind the wheel until you’ve been cleared by a health professional. Even if you feel okay to drive, in reality, you may not be. And you might not realize it until you’re already on the road. At that point, you could be endangering yourself and everyone else.

When can I return to driving?

There’s no one answer to this question. Everyone is different. It depends on your symptoms and the length of your recovery period. Talk to your doctor or other health professional about when the right time is.

How do I return to driving?

When you do get clearance to drive, don’t jump in for a cross-country road trip! Take it slow. Head to the corner store, drive to the park down the street. Ease your way back into it. Remember, if you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t run a marathon the day after your cast comes off. A driving professional could also help you become comfortable on the road again.

Comments

I wonder how many people with concussions know that they need to be careful about driving? I had a concussion a couple of years ago and no one said anything to me. Luckily it wasn't too serious but I wonder if my driving was affected.

We are learning so much about concussions but I never hear anyone talking about driving. Makes sense because it is after all a brain injury.