Assessing fitness to drive in older people: the need for an evidence‐based toolkit in general practice

Katharine A Wallis, James Matthews and Geoffrey K Spurling
Med J Aust 2020; 212 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50588
Published online: 27 April 2020

An objective measure could support GPs’ clinical judgement and aid discussions about the need for on‐road testing or driving cessation

Assessing fitness to drive in older people is an increasingly important but challenging role for general practice. General practitioners are often the first port of call for concerned family or friends, and many Australian states and territories require older drivers to undergo regular assessment of their health and fitness to drive. Some GPs are uncomfortable in this role, citing concern to maintain relationships with older patients, concern about the impact of driving cessation, lack of familiarity with legal responsibilities and local resources, lack of training and clear guidance, lack of an objective measure, and poor access to on‐road driving assessments.1,2,3,4 Some GPs report sleepless nights having assessed an older person as fit to drive for another year.1 While the answer might be simple — that is, to speak to the older person and their family — this is not always straightforward. An objective measure of driving fitness could help.

  • Katharine A Wallis1
  • James Matthews2
  • Geoffrey K Spurling3,4

  • 1 Primary Care Clinical Unit, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
  • 2 Ocean Shores Medical Centre, Ocean Shores, NSW
  • 3 Discipline of General Practice, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
  • 4 Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait, Islander Primary Health Care, Queensland Health, Brisbane, QLD


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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