Guidance for medical practitioners in assessing a patient's ability to return to driving after a mild head injury.
Persisting functional disturbances or post concussive symptoms may impact on an individual’s driving skills and require careful assessment to determine the time frames for returning to driving (particularly for commercial vehicle drivers).
Additional considerations in the assessment of commercial or heavy vehicle drivers include:
- Business requirements e.g., rosters (shifts) driver training, contractual demands
- Legal requirements e.g., log books, licensing procedures
- Vehicle and vehicle load issues including, size, stability, load distribution (problem solving)
- Duty of care to passengers (e.g., bus driver)
- Risks associated with carriage of dangerous goods
- Skills required to manage the vehicle (e.g., turning and braking long vehicles
- Demands associated with long periods spent on the road.
- In NSW the driver is responsible for reporting any condition to the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) that is likely to affect their ability to drive safely in the long term. If the driver continues to drive despite the doctor’s advice, does not report the condition to the RTA and continues to drive, he/ she may be prosecuted and insurance may not be valid if the health condition was a contributing factor to a motor vehicle accident.
- The clinician has the responsibility to advise the patient to report their condition to the RTA if it is likely to affect their ability to drive in the long term.
- In the case of temporary conditions, which may affect driving ability in the short term, the examining clinician should provide appropriate advice to an individual about not driving for a period. Notification to the RTA is not required in such instances.