Assessment of medical fitness to drive can be a sensitive and difficult task, particularly when it involves a condition such as epilepsy, where impairment is intermittent.
The patient, their doctor and the driver licensing authority (DLA) each have responsibilities, both to the patient and to the wider community of road users.
DLAs in Australia have shifted most of the responsibility for determining fitness to drive to the treating doctor. This creates a conflict of interest and may lead to unsafe decisions, damage to the doctor–patient relationship, interference with medical management and legal vulnerability for the doctor.
Australian neurologists have argued for a system in which the treating doctor provides objective information about the patient’s condition, rather than an opinion on fitness to drive, and the DLA uses that information to determine fitness. This must be supported by an expert review process.
Although drivers are legally obliged to notify the DLA when they become unfit, most people are unaware of this law. However, passing this responsibility to doctors in the form of mandatory reporting is counterproductive to road safety.
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