New medical assessment standards for drivers on the way

Updated medical standards for assessing whether someone is fit to drive safely will take effect from March 1

February 15, 2012

Truck drivers will soon be bound by new medical standards evaluating their fitness to drive after transport ministers approved an overhaul to the previous system.

Updated Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines will take effect from March 1, replacing requirements that have been in place since 2003.

The standards cover all private and commercial vehicle drivers and are designed to guide health professionals and driver licensing bodies when assessing the health of drivers.

The new edition reduces the number of chapters from 23 to 10 in a bid to simplify the assessment structure by focusing on conditions likely to affect a person’s fitness to drive.

"The standards now provide a more relevant and informed assessment of drivers and their abilities. The focus has moved to how the symptoms of a person’s condition may affect their driving rather than just the diagnosis of that condition," National Transport Commission CEO Nick Dimopoulos says.

"This change results in a fairer system where drivers are assessed based on their ability to drive safety, rather than just on their health condition."

Chapters include information on health conditions such as blackouts, diabetes, dementia, epilepsy, sleep disorders and vision problems.

Drivers have been told the new standards do not change their responsibilities. They are still required not to get behind the wheel if they have a condition that is likely to affect their ability to drive safely.

Austroads will be distributing copies of Assessing Fitness to Drive to all Australian driver licensing and accreditation authorities, general practitioners, medical specialists and other relevant health professionals during February and March 2012.

Drivers or medical professionals with questions about how the new standards may affect them or their patients have been asked to contact their licensing authority directly.

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