Influence of chronic illness on crash involvement of motor vehicle drivers

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #213 - 2004

Authors: Charlton. J.L., Koppel, S., O'Hare, M., Andrea, D., Smith, G., Khodr, B., Langford, J., Odell, M. & Fildes, B.

Full report in .pdf format  [1.5MB]


A significant issue for consideration in road safety is the impact of medical conditions on crash involvement and risk of injury. This aim of this project was to review the evidence for the influence of chronic illness and impairments on crash involvement of motor vehicle drivers. A number of methodological issues are discussed and recent research findings are critically evaluated. A risk rating system was applied to the available evidence on crash risk for all medical conditions of interest. This provided a means of identifying those conditions that presented the greatest risk. Eight conditions were found to have at least a moderately elevated risk of crash involvement (relative risk greater than 2.0) compared with their relevant control group. These were alcohol abuse and dependence, dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, psychiatric disorders (considered as a group), schizophrenia, sleep apnoea, and cataracts. Guidelines regarding fitness to drive from selected jurisdictions were also considered in the light of evidence for crash risk. These comparisons revealed a number of differences across the jurisdictions and highlighted some inconsistencies with the available evidence for crash risk. A number of conclusions are presented which may contribute to the formulation of recommendations for managing the risk of injury crashes associated with medical conditions. The findings of this review also highlighted the need for a cooperative international approach to future research using population-based, prospective studies to advance scientific knowledge linking medical conditions and crash risk.

Sponsoring Organisation: Swedish National Road Administration