Know your responsibilities

Familiarise yourself with the vital role you play as a health professional when it comes to your patient’s fitness to drive. 

Driving is a complex task requiring good vision, judgement, perception and physical abilities. Many health conditions and disabilities may affect a patient's ability to drive, so fitness to drive is an important consideration when you are assessing and managing them. 

Patients, including family and carers, rely on your advice regarding medical conditions and their impact on safe driving ability. They also rely on your advice about when to report to VicRoads, what happens after referral and the consequences of not reporting.

Fact sheets

that explain health professional responsibilities

Fitness to drive information for Medical Practitioners [PDF 827 Kb]
Fitness to drive information for Opthalmologists and Optometrists [PDF 824 Kb]
Fitness to drive information for Mental Health and Addiction Practitioners [PDF 180 Kb]
Fitness to drive information for Occupational Therapists [PDF 823 Kb]

Medical Fitness to Drive for Physicians:  a podcast developed for medical practitioners by the Royal Australasian College of Physcicans, April 2019


Below are some common FAQs surrounding your role and responsibilities as a health professional:

When should I think about reporting on a patient’s fitness to drive?
What happens if a patient doesn’t follow my advice to stop driving?
Is it mandatory to report a patient to VicRoads?
Can I recommend a conditional licence to a patient?
Who makes the decisions on driver licensing?
What about commercial vehicle drivers?

When should I think about reporting on a patient’s fitness to drive?

Fitness to drive should be a consideration for any patient presenting with symptoms or deficits that might affect safe driving. 

The diagnoses listed below provide a useful guide to the conditions and disabilities for which fitness to drive should be considered as part of overall management; short term or long term.

For someone diagnosed with a progressive condition (e.g. dementia), early discussions about driving will help them prepare for the idea of not driving, even if they may initially be safe to continue driving. 

It's also important to consider whether medical treatment or medications could affect someone’s driving ability.

Regular monitoring is required to assess how condition progression affects driving skills. For other conditions (e.g. seizures/epilepsy, or cardiovascular events), fitness to drive will require immediate consideration.

Your role as a health professional is to assess whether the medical condition is likely to affect the person’s ability to drive safely and provide advice accordingly, in line with the guidelines contained in the national standards Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines.

Examples of conditions that may affect safe driving include:

  • Vision and eye disorders
  • Blackouts
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia and cognitive impairment
  • Seizures and epilepsy
  • Neurological conditions
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Psychiatric conditions
  • Sleep disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance misuse

What happens if a patient doesn’t follow my advice to stop driving?

If a person continues to drive despite advice and they do not report their condition to VicRoads, they are not fulfilling their legal responsibility.

If they are involved in a crash under these circumstances and it is determined that their health condition was a contributing factor, they may be prosecuted and their insurance may not be valid.

If your patient does not wish to report and you have concerns about their ability to drive safely, you can make an anonymous report to VicRoads. Health professionals who make a report in good faith are protected from legal action, and we won’t share their identity without their consent (unless it is required by law). 

You may: 

Complete a form:  Medical Forms and Fact Sheets 
Email: [email protected] 
Call:   (03) 8391 3226

Please provide patient details and the reasons for your concern. Under Victorian law, VicRoads must investigate this information. 

Always document your advice and actions in your patient’s file.

Is it mandatory to report a patient to VicRoads?

In Victoria, there is no mandatory reporting requirement for health professionals.

However, you have an ethical obligation to support public safety. Thus, if you believe a patient lacks insight/judgement, and/or is not heeding advice to cease driving or self-report, you may report directly to VicRoads. 

If you believe the driver poses an immediate risk to public safety, you should report directly to the Police.

Can I recommend a conditional licence to a patient?

When a driver has a long-term or progressive health condition or disability that impacts driving ability, a conditional licence provides a mechanism for optimising driver and public safety while maintaining driver independence. 

A conditional licence identifies the need for medical management, vehicle modifications and/or driving restrictions (e.g. corrective lenses, radius restricted driving area, zero BAC) that would enable the person to drive safely.

It may also specify a review period, after which the person is required to undergo medical or on-road competency reviews to establish their continued fitness to drive.

Other licence conditions could include: 

  • no night driving 
  • 5km radius from home boundaries 
  • vehicle modifications to optimise driver independence (e.g. steering aid, left foot accelerator).

Licence conditions can only be applied if the driver can be reasonably expected to remember and apply them.

Who makes the decisions on driver licensing?

As the driver licensing authority, VicRoads is solely responsible for issuing, renewing, suspending, refusing or cancelling, and reinstating a person’s driver licence, including a conditional licence. 

VicRoads makes a risk assessment and licensing decisions on a case-by-case basis with reference to the national Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines. VicRoads will write to the customer to advise the outcome.

What about commercial vehicle drivers?

Reflecting the increased risks associated with driving commercial vehicles, more stringent health standards apply to commercial drivers such as; bus, taxi, bulk/dangerous goods and heavy vehicle drivers. These requirements are outlined in national Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines

It is important for health professionals to ask about possible driving requirements for work when managing fitness to drive so that the relevant standards can be applied. A person who does not meet the commercial vehicle medical criteria may still be eligible to retain a private vehicle driver licence.

 

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