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Agency reviews procedures for US drivers with medical conditions

17 Nov 2004

The US National Transportation Safety Board has called for a national system to collect data on road accidents involving drivers with medical conditions.

The Board said that aside from alcohol addiction, the extent to which
medical impairment contributes to the number of traffic accidents is
not well defined. At its recent meeting it recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
(AAMVA) develop a procedure to collect, evaluate and report data
regarding the impact of drivers' medical conditions on traffic

According to the Board many doctors involved with patient care are not
knowledgeable about their state's reporting policies or about the
evaluation of a patient's fitness to drive and so recommended that
medical schools include training on the driving risks associated with
certain medical conditions and medications as well as proper driving
fitness assessment techniques. The Board also asked the Federation of State Medical Boards to ensure that continuing medical education requirements include a course addressing medical conditions and driving risks.

The Board also said that law enforcement personnel are generally
unaware that medical impairments can contribute to the occurrence of an
accident and therefore they considered it important for officers to
receive awareness training to help them identify and refer medically
high-risk drivers to the licensing authority for further assessment.
The report recommended that a training programme should be designed to
help police officers identify common medical conditions that can impair
a driver's ability to operate a vehicle and then promote this training
to all new and veteran officers.

The apparent lack of a uniform process to identify, report, assess,
license or counsel drivers with high-risk medical conditions amongst
the US states was addressed at the meeting. The Board recommended that
NHTSA and AAMVA develop a model programme for states to use to enable
individuals with medical conditions to be licensed to the extent of
their abilities.

NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners said:

should never rely on guesswork. It is critical to collect data and
facts which will form the basis for the policy making which affects
potentially millions of people."