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PTA Blog Talk


Published August 25, 2010 1:50 PM by Jason Marketti

The Montana DMV does not intervene when it comes to drivers who are demented on the roads unless a recommendation from the attending physician or a law-enforcement agency intervenes first. Also drivers can renew their license by mail and it will be valid for eight years.

In Ohio for the DMV to remove a license from a driver, they investigate to determine if there is sufficient cause to require a medical statement and/or another driver's license exam. However, if a person who has dementia continues to drive and has no record of an Ohio license or permit, no action can be taken to remove that person's license. There is also no law that requires medical professionals to report unsafe drivers and often the driver's portion of the test is waived for new residents who have a valid out-of-state license.

So what does this tell us? We should ban cell phone usage while driving because it is dangerous?

I often see patients and family members who should not be driving due to their medical condition, whether it is physically or mentally disabling. Often we are witnesses to unsafe behavior in the clinic and we can dictate how patients should maneuver around to be safe for themselves and others. As soon as a patient leaves we relinquish that control and trust others to keep the patient and us safe since we will share the road someday.

Most accidents are caused by inattentive drivers, whether on the cell phone, changing a radio station, arguing with a passenger or otherwise distracted. Should we ban one behavior (using the cell phone) and allow those with head injuries, dementia and severe uncontrolled mental disorders to continue to drive?

Perhaps the doctor won't intervene for fear of a lawsuit, or the pleasantly confused elderly grandmotherly being prosecuted will make law enforcement look like overbearing protectors.

Laws can ban cell phone use during driving but let us not forget there are those who are more impaired, more dangerous and they do not want to give up the "right" to drive as easily.


I think we have to be very careful before we start banning people with certain diagnoses from driving.  As professionals, we have the option of referring our clients to neuropsychologists, driving specialists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and other who may be better equipped to not only assess driving safety, but be able to provide interventions that can improve driver safety, response time, attention to important details, etc.  Instead of throwing your hands up in the air, write a referral and contribute to the ongoing safety of your clients.

Ellen, Medical Rehabilitation - AVP August 31, 2010 2:21 PM
Chicago IL

Some states have mandated reporting by licensed healthcare providers.  Check your state laws.  Your name may be used if you report someone so this can cause some health care providers not to intervene.  

Karen August 30, 2010 11:59 PM

Here in the UK, people are required to report to the DVLA (Department of Vehicular Licensing Authority) immediately if they have a condition or are prescribed medication that can alter their ability to drive. Failure to do so can result in revocation of one's license. The DVLA will then follow up with that person's GP to determine if retesting (written and practical) is required.

Everyone still uses the cell whilst driving though.

Dean Metz August 27, 2010 8:56 AM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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