Malcolm Flynn | Oct 11, 2012

Queensland's RACQ has thrown its support behind a proposal that would see mandatory reporting of patients deemed by their GP to be medically unfit to drive.

The news follows the release of a Queensland Government review of laws related to drivers aged 75 and over.

The review encourages investigation of the feasibility of requiring general practitioners to report medically unfit elderly drivers to Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) regulatory body.

However, the RACQ believes that such a law should be passed to include drivers of all ages.

“Mandatory reporting of motorists should occur for any Queensland motorists whose doctor believes they are unfit to drive, regardless of age, because it is about impairment [rather than simply age]”, RACQ’s Paul Turner said.

The RACQ argues that any changes to older driver policy should be based on clear evidence of road safety benefits.

“Older drivers are not proportionately over-represented in fatal or serious injury crash statistics so we need to ensure that any changes are made for the right reasons,” Mr Turner said.

Currently, only SA and NT practitioners are obliged to report medically unfit drivers to the relevant authorities.

Like Queensland, the ACT, Victoria, WA, Tasmania and NSW officially place the onus on the driver to inform the authorities of any potentially compromising health issues.

However, medical practitioners in these states/territory are protected from civil and criminal liability if they do inform authorities without patient consent.

Victoria’s VicRoads ruled out any mandatory obligation for Victorian practitioners earlier this year, based on the concern that drivers would hide health issues from their practitioners to protect their license - and also remain untreated.

This Queensland Government review also follows a revision to the National Transport Commission's Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines earlier this year, aimed at ensuring a uniform assessment by practitioners across all states and territories.

The review will be open for public submission for one month, and the RACQ is encouraging contributions from relevant groups and individuals.