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Transportation Safety Board hearings into drivers with medical conditions

25 Mar 2003

The US National Transportation Safety Board has held a public hearing into drivers with medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and sleep apnea.

The impetus for the hearing was a series of fatal accidents that involved drivers with such conditions. Witnesses to the hearing included representatives of patient organisations, medical advisory boards, insurance companies and police departments.

The Board explored issues such the need for more research into how medical conditions affect an individual’s ability to drive, current procedures for collecting and routing information on medically high-risk drivers to licensing authorities and medical review boards and programmes that aid doctors, law enforcement, licensing authorities, and others in reporting, managing, or counseling medically high-risk drivers. The hearings also heard about programmes that attempt to reduce incidences of medically related accidents through education and other proactive measures.

Doctors at the hearing said it is hard to predict the onset of a seizure, heart attack or a blackout from hypoglycaemia and that many people may have medical conditions that do not impair driving at all. In addition, the doctors said that many people take blood pressure pills or painkillers without any idea that they could affect their performance behind the wheel.