Frequently asked questions

Do I need to wear a face mask and what Covid-19 safety measures are in place?

We understand that outside the NHS things are changing. However our colleagues are still wearing their face masks to protect you. We require you to continue to wear a face mask during your driving assessment.

Our premises, equipment and vehicles are regularly cleaned and sanitised. Should you wish to re-sanitise the vehicle steering wheel and controls you are welcome to do so – we can provide sanitising wipes. If you have any concerns at all, please do not hesitate to ask a member of our team.

Once you enter our premises, you will be provided with a disposable face mask to be worn during the assessment. Anyone accompanying you will also be provided with a face mask. Your assessment team will be wearing the same type of disposable mask during your assessment.

If you are exempt from wearing a facemask, or think you will be unable to wear a face mask due to health reasons, please contact North East Drive Mobility in advance of your appointment.

You will also be asked to sanitise your hands on arrival.

If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, please do not attend for your assessment appointment and contact North East Drive Mobility on telephone number 0191 287 5090

What do I need to bring with me to my assessment?

  • Your driving licence, or a letter from the DVLA confirming your entitlement to drive
  • Any spectacles you may use for distance or reading
  • Any medication / inhalers / snacks you may need during your assessment
  • You may also choose to bring your own pen in case needed, or we will provide a sanitised pen for your use.

Is there a charge for the assessment?

No, the service is free of charge to the person attending for assessment.

Can I bring someone with me?

We would encourage you to travel to your assessment with a friend or family member.

In line with current NHS Covid-19 guidelines, we would not routinely invite this person to accompany you in the clinical or driving parts of the assessment.  However we recognise that some people attending may need the support of their accompanying person and if this is required, we may need to restrict this to one individual.

How do I get to the assessment centre?

Directions to Walkergate Park

Is there parking close to the assessment  centre?

Yes, all of our Centres have parking facilities. Parking charges at Walkergate Park, Newcastle upon Tyne apply, however anyone displaying a blue badge in their windscreen will be able to park free of charge.  All parking at Carlisle and Teesside is free of charge.

If you are considering driving to the assessment yourself, we advise that you are accompanied by another driver, who is insured to drive your car (just in case you unable to drive back for any reason).

Are there facilities available for food/snacks?

There is a café on site at Walkergate Park, offering a selection of hot and cold food and drinks.  We would advise that you bring a snack/drink with you if you are attending the Carlisle or Teesside Centres.

What happens when I arrive?

We advise that you should not drive yourself to the assessment centre.  If you are considering driving to the assessment yourself, we advise that you are accompanied by another driver, who is insured to drive your car (just in case you unable to drive back for any reason).

If you have travelled by taxi or public transport, weather permitting please remain outside the building (please refer to the photograph on the directions). Using a mobile phone call the centre on 0191 287 5090 to advise the team of your arrival.  Someone will come out of the building to greet you. If you do not have a mobile phone, please enter the building and press the intercom button at Walkergate Park, or for Carlisle and Stockton-on-Tees report to the main reception and someone will come to see you.

On arrival you will be welcomed and introduced to your assessment team. The assessment team consists of a Mobility Clinician and Driving Adviser. All assessment staff are experienced in the specialty of driving and disability/medical conditions. The Mobility Clinicians have professional backgrounds in Occupational Therapy, Nursing or Physiotherapy and our Driving Advisers are Department for Transport Approved Driving Instructors.

The assessment team will explain the process of the appointment, and will ask for your consent to the assessment proceeding.

What does the assessment involve?

The assessment team are aware that you may be anxious when attending for assessment and will do their utmost to put you at your ease. At any point in the assessment, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask the team.

Number Plate Test

*You will be asked to read a car number plate from the minimum distance as required by The Road Traffic Act 1988, which is 20 metres. As a very approximate guide, this is about 5 car lengths. If you need corrective spectacles or contact lenses to meet the standard, these must be worn at assessment.

If you are unable to read the number plate from the required distance the assessment cannot proceed, and you will be advised to stop driving (if you hold a current licence) with immediate effect, as you will be committing a Road Traffic offence. Therefore, if you think you may have any difficulty with this, it is vital that you visit your optician before your appointment.

Information for insulin controlled diabetes

You should always carry your glucose meter and blood glucose strips with you. You should check your blood glucose no more than two hours before the start of the first journey and every two hours whilst you are driving. The intention is to ensure that blood glucose is always above 5 mmol/L while driving.  Please bring your glucose meter to your appointment.

Pre-drive discussion

Before any driving takes place, there will be a short discussion with the Mobility Clinician and Driving Adviser. This is a very important part of the assessment process as it allows us to gain further information about any recent changes to your health.  We will need to see your driving licence, or letter from the DVLA confirming your entitlement to drive.

The assessment team will consider your medical fitness, vision and physical ability.  The Mobility Clinician may also ask you to carry out some basic tests which look at how you interpret information.

What happens during the driving part of the assessment?

Unless there is any reason to prevent you from proceeding to the driving part of the assessment, the in car assessment will follow. The vehicle(s), type of control and any adaptations to be used or demonstrated will be discussed with you.

Driving assessments take place in the Centre’s own vehicles. We have a purpose-built driving track area in the grounds of Walkergate Park, Newcastle upon Tyne  where you can become familiar with the Centre’s vehicle and where basic vehicle control skills are assessed.  At Carlisle and Stockton-on-Tees this takes place on quiet road areas. This is useful for novice drivers who have not driven before, or for people who have not driven for a lengthy period of time. We have a selection of different vehicles, manual and automatic transmission, with various adaptations.

You will be given the opportunity to step out of the vehicle, remove your face mask and have a drink before the assessment proceeds.  If you feel uncomfortable at any time please do not hesitate to speak to the assessment team.

If you are getting used to a new method of control for the first time, the assessment may be restricted to the driving track or quiet areas, and we may advise that you return for the on road assessment at a later date.

If considered safe to do so, the drive will then proceed on to the public roads. This enables the team to assess your interaction with other road users, how you forward plan, anticipate the actions of others, and deal with the complexities of driving. The public road route covers a variety of road and traffic features, and can take an average of 40 minutes. We are looking for evidence of safe driving skills; the assessment is not a driving test.

Can I use my own car for the assessment?

Clients are not permitted to use their own car for their assessment. We provide a range of vehicles, and for safety reasons they are all dual controlled, and insured for the purpose of your driving assessment.

We understand the assessment vehicle may not be familiar to you, but we find that most people manage to use our vehicles following a period of familiarisation to get used to a different car. We have both manual and automatic vehicles, of various sizes. If you have any concerns about this, please do not hesitate to discuss with the assessment team on the day of your assessment.

What happens after the drive?

When you return to the Centre from your drive, the Mobility Clinician and Driving Adviser will have a brief discussion together to consider the evidence from the drive. They will then discuss their recommendations with you.

Possible outcomes of the assessment may be:

  • You are recommended as being suitable to drive with, or without vehicle adaptations.
  • You are recommended to return to North East Drive Mobility for review following a period of driving tuition. If this is the case, we can advise you on how to obtain suitable driving tuition.
  • You are recommended not to drive. Although we will try to find ways for you to be able to drive safely, there is a possibility, in the interests of road safety that the assessment team may recommend that you should not drive.

A written report from the assessment team detailing the recommendations and advice from the assessment will be sent to you by post as soon as possible after the assessment.  If you have been referred by the Medical Adviser at the DVLA, the report will be sent directly to the DVLA as part of their medical fitness to drive enquiries.

How long does the assessment take?

On average the assessment takes between 2½ and 3 hours. There may be occasions when the Mobility Clinician may contact you by telephone prior to your assessment date.  This is an opportunity to gather as much information as possible in advance of your appointment.  If this is the case, your assessment appointment time at the Centre may be less lengthy.

Is there any help or advice for people who need to stop driving or require other forms of transport?

Regional Transport Hub
It can be difficult getting out and about, especially if you don’t drive, but did you know there are options to explore?  We offer free advice and support to explore what travel options are available to you in your local area and beyond.  This may include information on accessing public transport, information on accessible transport, or help improve your confidence to travel.  This information is available from our Regional Transport Hub Co-ordinator, who may be contacted via North East Drive Mobility on telephone number 0191 287 5090 or email transporthub@cntw.nhs.uk