Old Drivers
Reporter: Andrea Burns

The Department for Planning and Infrastructure takes seriously its role in assessing a person's ability to control a vehicle safely.

The Department conducts more than 80,000 medical assessments each year. This includes aged and other medical assessments.

The State's licensing system is designed to capture a driver's medical condition throughout their life through a number of mechanisms :

1. On first application for a licence a driver must disclose a medical condition.

2. Medical assessments are required at the ages of 75, 78, 80 and every year thereafter and a Practical Driving Assessment is also required annually from the age of 85 onwards.

3. Since July 2007 indemnity is offered for anyone who reports, in good faith, information about another person's fitness to drive. (This includes police, medical professionals, family, neighbours and friends.)

4. Since March 2008 it is law for all drivers to report any long-term or permanent medical condition that may impact on their ability to drive safely.

Once the Department requires a driver to have a medical assessment, the person will need to go to their regular GP and undergo an assessment.

The GP then submits the assessment form directly to the Department.

The Department assess the information provided by the medical professional and determines what, if any, further action is required.

The Department bases all of its assessments on the national Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines.

The assessment includes going through records of any previous medical assessments as well as a person's driving record, which could include traffic crash reports etc.

The process also takes into account the doctor's recommendation, as it plays an integral role in the decision process; however where the recommendation is not in line with the national Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines, the Department will consult its Occupational Health Physician to provide a recommendation.

In some situations the Department may request a specialist report or further testing. As an example, this can include an off-road occupational therapist assessment or a Practical Driving Assessment.

There is no automatic age to lose a licence; the decision is based on an individual's fitness to safely control a motor vehicle.

When the Department receives information about another person's driving ability, it first determines the validity of the information, to ensure it is not malicious. Once this has been satisfied the individual's record is assessed.

Aged drivers who are required by law to undergo a medical assessment are sent a letter advising of requirement for a medical assessment 12 weeks before their licence expires.

Mandatory Medical Reporting

Introduced in March 2008, and coming from a coroner's report, the new legislation makes it law for any driver to report any long-term or permanent physical or mental condition that may impair their ability to drive safely.

For more information on what conditions (and medication to treat conditions) may impact the ability to operate a vehicle safely visit:

www.dpi.wa.gov.au/medicalreporting or call the dedicated Medical Reporting hotline on

1300 852 722.