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Research: "Epilepsy causes few fatal car accidents"

29 September, 2004

Drivers with epilepsy are unlikely to cause fatal traffic accidents, according to research published in the journal Neurology, and the time that a driver must be seizure free before driving has little impact on the frequency of such accidents.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland
studied the deaths of drivers in road traffic accidents across the US
between 1995 and 1997. On average 44,000 drivers per year died in
traffic accidents, however only an average of 86 drivers each year died
as a result of seizures.

However,
the rate of fatal crashes for drivers with epilepsy was 2.3 times
higher than the rate for drivers with cardiovascular diseases or high
blood pressure and 4.6 times the rate for drivers with diabetes. The
researchers also found that there was little difference in the rate of
accidents caused by seizures between states where people with epilepsy
could return to driving after three months of being free from seizures
and twelve months of being free from seizures.

The
researchers say that their findings support the current policy, in most
locations, of allowing people to drive whose seizures are controlled.
However, they did call for, within the US, a more "uniform and
reliable" reporting system and a greater emphasis on medical conditions
in deciding whether someone with epilepsy should be allowed to drive.