The rules about health and driving are developed by medical experts and are agreed to by all Driver Licensing Authorities. Your doctor does not make the rules but provides advice about how your particular health condition might affect your ability to drive safely and how it might be managed. The Driver Licensing Authority always makes the final decision about your licence status and will consider the advice of your doctor as well as other factors such as your accident history and the type of vehicle you drive (for example a truck, car, or a public passenger vehicle).
Many temporary conditions will prevent you from driving. For example, following an anaesthetic your doctor will advise you not to drive for 24 hours or more. An injury, such as a broken leg, may also prevent you from driving. In these types of circumstances your doctor will advise you about the need to restrict your driving in the short term. In most cases your licence status will not be affected and you will not need to report to the Driver Licensing Authority.
When assessing your ability to drive safely, your doctor will consider your physical and psychological health. He or she will refer to a book of medical standards (Assessing Fitness to Drive) which is used by all doctors throughout Australia and which describes specific requirements for various diseases and conditions. You can view these standards on this website.
Sometimes it can be difficult to make an assessment and your doctor may refer you for a practical assessment.
As the relationship between you and your doctor is a confidential one, your doctor will not normally communicate directly with the Driver Licensing Authority. He or she will provide you with advice about your ability to drive safely as well as a letter or report to take to the authority.
Doctors also have an obligation to public safety so your doctor may report directly to the Driver Licensing Authority if he or she feels your condition poses a significant threat to public safety.
If you continue to drive despite your doctor's advice and you do not report your condition to the Driver Licensing Authority, you are not fulfilling your legal responsibility. If you are involved in a crash under these circumstances and it is found that your health condition was a contributing factor, you may be prosecuted and your insurance may not be valid.
If your doctor is aware that you are continuing to drive and feels that your driving is a serious risk to you and other road users, he or she may feel obliged to report directly to the Licensing Authority.
The private standards should be applied to: Drivers applying for or holding a license class C (Car), R (Motorcycle) or LR (Light Rigid) UNLESS the driver is also applying for an authority or is already authorised to use the vehicle for carrying public passengers for hire or reward or for the carriage of bulk dangerous goods or in some jurisdictions for a driver instructor's license.
Professional drivers such as drivers of trucks, public passenger vehicles and vehicles carrying dangerous goods must meet higher medical standards because of the demands of their work, the extensive hours spent on the road and the serious consequences likely to result from a crash.
If you have an illness that is likely to impact on your ability to drive safely it is important to tell your doctor what sort of vehicle you drive. It may be that with treatment and regular review you will be able to continue to drive on a conditional licence.
A person who does not meet the health requirements to drive a commercial vehicle may still be eligible to drive a private vehicle.
If you know of licence holders whose health might be affecting their ability to drive safely, it is important to get them to talk to their doctor. It may be that, with appropriate treatment or driving restrictions, they can continue to drive on a conditional licence. Their doctor may also be able to suggest alternative transport solutions. If they are unwilling to discuss this with a doctor, you should contact the Driver Licensing Authority who will deal with the matter confidentially.