Medical warnings for at-risk drivers reduce traffic crashes: study

October 3, 2012

Toronto – People who received a physician's warning that their medical conditions may make them unfit to drive experienced a 45 percent reduction in the rate of traffic crashes that resulted in hospitalization, according to a study from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

Researchers tracked crash rates in Ontario during the late 2000s for more than 100,000 patients with medical conditions that could make driving dangerous, including dementia or sleep disorders. They compared these patients’ rate of crashes during a three-year period where they received no physician warnings to their crash rate in a one-year period after receiving a warning.

During the three-year period, 1,430 crashes occurred among patient drivers, compared with 273 crashes that occurred during the one-year period after warnings. Based on the results, researchers recommend increasing physician warnings for patients who may be unfit to drive.

The study was published Sept. 27 in the New England Journal of Medicine.