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Updated medical standards to help doctors assess driver fitness

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Doctors and other health professionals can now have access to best practice information to help them assess a patient’s ability to drive.

The updated medical guidelines will be contained in the new edition of Assessing Fitness to Drive for commercial and private vehicle drivers, a joint publication by the National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads to come into effect from October 1, 2016.

NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter said the edition included new features to guide the assessment of conditions such as epilepsy and dementia, and further information to determine and support functional driver capacity.

“We have worked closely with health professionals, driver licensing authorities and consumer health groups to update the guidelines, which has resulted in some changes to the licensing criteria to account for developments in medical understanding and practice,” Mr Retter said.

“The updates also include clearer guidance for health professionals to support consistent assessment and decision making.”

Related: Merit in graduated licences for seniors

Austroads Chief Executive Nick Koukoulas said doctors would also be given information to assist them in having important conversations with their patients about driving.

Late last year Dr Genevieve Yates shared her story on doctorportal with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of thorough driver assessments.

Austroads is responsible for publication and distribution of Assessing Fitness to Drive, and will host the electronic version on their website.

A summary of the changes in the new edition and other support materials are also available on the Austroads website.

Three changes to medical criteria in the updated guidelines: 

  • Aneurysms – The aneurysm diameter at which a conditional licence may be considered has been amended based on risk stratification for different aneurysm types and current management guidelines.
  • Epilepsy and seizures – For drivers with epilepsy under treatment who have been seizure-free for an extended period (10 years for private drivers), the driver licensing authority may consider a longer review period on the advice of an independent specialist.
  • Stroke – For private drivers, the requirement for a conditional licence and periodic review has been removed if the driver has recovered adequate neurological function. This reflects the non-progressive nature of stroke. The standard cross refers to management of treatable causes of stroke.

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