In the latest health news, here’s a summary of what doctors need to know about the 2022 ‘fitness to drive’ changes.
A new edition of the national driver medical standards “Assessing Fitness to Drive” came into effect on June 22, 2022.
While the legal requirements for drivers, health professionals (notably, GPs and eyecare professionals) and government authorities remain unchanged, the new edition of fitness to drive further emphasises the importance of health professionals advice to patients when it comes to the impact medical conditions or disabilities may have on their driving capability.
And, given that in 2021 people in the over-75 age group ranked second behind those in the 17-25 age group for road fatalities at seven per hundred thousand, it is becoming increasingly important for health professionals to be aware of the new 2022 standards for fitness to drive.
RACGP supports new edition
Given the high road toll Australian is still trying to tackle, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) was quick to come out in support of the 2022 fitness to drive edition.
‘When faced with more complex patients, taking the time to read the relevant chapter will make GPs’ decision fairer to the patient and community,’ said University of Adelaide Professor Nigel Stocks, the RACGP representative on the Assessing Fitness to Drive Implementation Advisory Group.
Noting that the standards were an approved RACGP clinical resource, Stocks encouraged health professionals to engage more with older patients about their ability to drive safely.
‘The standards provide guidance to GPs when making a driver assessment,’ Professor Stocks said, pointing out that they are based on relevant research evidence and the best medical and health professional advice.
Changes in the 2022 fitness to drive edition
A more detailed summary of fitness to drive changes can be found on the Austroads website, but as a quick guide, there are two major types of changes.
Fitness to drive: Changes to Part A
The first lot of changes – ‘improved general guidance’ around the principles for assessing fitness to drive – are contained in Part A of the publication.
Doctors should be aware of changes concerning:
Roles and responsibilities
Older drivers: Fitness to drive should be integrated into general health and lifestyle management for older people to normalise the eventual transition to non driving.
Multiple medical conditions
Drivers with disabilities: Updated advice that stresses specific guidance around disabilities not being treated the same as medical conditions when it comes to considering driving capability.
Medicinal marijuana (Cannabis): Acknowledging the growing prescribing of medical marijuana and how safety for driving must be considered for patients using medical marijuana.
Fitness to drive: Changes to Part B
A range of changes have occurred across most of the medical conditions listed in the 2022 fitness to drive edition.
The following chapters could require revision by Doctors: