AMA Tool Helps Assess Older Drivers' Risks

The“ Medical Fitness to Drive” course will be available for continuing educational credits for physicians and other health care professionals.

The American Medical Association has created a free web-based educational course to help physicians address their older patients’ ability to drive safely. AMA developed "Medical Fitness to Drive: Is your Patient at Risk?" in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help physicians identify when medical conditions may impair patients' ability to drive.

"As the number of older drivers with medical conditions expands, patients and their families will often turn to physicians for guidance on safe driving," said AMA President Dr. Peter W. Carmel. "Physicians can use the tools and information contained in this course to better address safe driving practices with their patients, promoting the safety of our patients and our roads."

AMA encourages physicians to make driver safety a routine part of their geriatric medical services. The course includes assessment tools, case studies, and additional resources; AMA conducted a pilot study for it, with 87 percent of physicians who participated saying they learned specific techniques or tools to improve their practices.

"Getting older shouldn't mean the end of driving for our nation's seniors, but medical problems can sometimes impair an individual's ability to drive safely," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "The AMA’s web-based tool should help physicians assess patients’ capacity to operate a vehicle and help keep everyone on our roads more safe."

According to AMA, older drivers have a higher risk of dying in traffic crashes for two reasons. First, drivers age 75 and older are involved in significantly more motor vehicle crashes per mile driven than are middle-aged drivers. Second, older drivers are considerably more fragile than younger ones and are therefore more likely to suffer a fatal injury in the event of a crash.

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