The National Transportation Safety Board has begun formally
issuing its recommendations on improving the medical oversight of
Non-commercial drivers and the medical conditions that can
impair driving took the limelight in a special investigation conducted by the
NTSB. Conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, sleep disorders, cardiovascular
disease as well as many more were singled out as having some impact on a
driver’s ability to drive safely and effectively.
The investigation revealed that issues encompassing the
medical oversight of noncommercial drivers are complex and that it would
require close cooperation of federal, state and private organizations to create
an effective and uniform system that protects public safety while being
sensitive to the needs of individual drivers.
One of the recently issued recommendations was addressed to
the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. It stressed the
need to develop a training program to help police officers identify common
medical conditions that can impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle and
then promote the training to all officers, new and veteran.
Two recommendations tackled the physicians’ roles in
improving the oversight. The NTSB recommended ensuring that continuing medical
education requirements in all states include a course addressing the driving
risks associated with certain medical conditions and medications, as well as
the existence and function of state reporting laws and procedures regarding
medically impaired drivers.
The other physician-oriented recommendation addressed to
three different agencies simply recommended to teach medical students – while
in school – the driving risks associated with certain medical conditions, the
existence of state laws regarding the high-risk drivers, and methods and
resources for counseling such drivers.
The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and
Ordinances received a recommendation from the NTSB encouraging the agency to
work with the National Association of Attorneys General to develop a model law
that provides immunity from liability for any person who, in good faith, reports
a driver with a potentially impairing medical condition. The recommendation
also encourages the states to include this law in their statutes.
The NTSB issued another recommendation concerning the need
for licensing agencies to determine current and previous medically related
actions on a driver’s license, as well as any current medically related
Acknowledging the fact that by restricting or removing a
person’s ability to drive could negatively impact that person’s ability to
function in society, the NTSB also issued a recommendation to the U.S.
Department of Transportation. It pointed to the need to develop alternative
transportation programs for medically impaired people of all ages who can no