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Traffic Medicine

Irish roadway

Looking for Medical Fitness to Drive Guidelines?

Published in April 2016, this document is designed to help doctors and other healthcare professionals assess medical fitness to drive

At the National Office for Traffic Medicine, everything we do is aimed at making driving as safe as possible for all road users.

Our goal is to help doctors and licensing authorities promote safe mobility in Ireland.

Our office was jointly established by RCPI and the Road Safety Authority of Ireland in 2011, bringing the specialty of Traffic Medicine to Ireland for the first time.

We are led by Professor Desmond O’Neill, Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, Tallaght Hospital Dublin and Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin.

WHAT IS TRAFFIC MEDICINE?

The term “traffic medicine” evolved to embrace all the disciplines, techniques, and methods aimed at reducing the harm traffic crashes inflict on human beings.

This includes medical and surgical care provided to crash victims, improving vehicle crashworthiness, developing better safety belts and brakes, designing safer roads and traffic control systems, training and educating drivers, research into the biomechanics and epidemiology of traffic crashes, and developing and enforcing traffic safety policies.

The best-known element of traffic medicine is the need for medical certification showing fitness to drive.

Driver in car

Why It Matters

Driving gives people independence – you can go where you want, when you want. 

Medical Fitness to Drive guidelines highlight the need for all of us to appreciate and accept responsibility for managing our health and medications for safe driving. Our doctor may advise us on the impact on driving of our health and medications but we have responsibility not to drive if we ever feel unfit to do so. For example, you should not drive if you feel dizzy or light-headed or if you are a diabetic and you feel hypoglycaemic.

Being a responsible driver means not only listening to your doctor's advice, but on a day-to-day basis not ignoring signs of impairment that may make you unfit and therefore unsafe to drive.

Driver fitness is governed by EU law and regulations made in Ireland under the Road Traffic Acts. 

Through our Traffic Medicine Certificate and education and outreach programme we provide expert training and advice for medical practitioners.

Doctor checking pulse.

WHAT DO WE DO?

In close consultation with stakeholders, we are developing a national framework for standards in Traffic Medicine in Ireland, which includes:

  • developing and maintaining guidelines to help medical professionals assess a person’s medical fitness to drive
  • running an educational programme for health professionals, an Garda Síochána and other professionals
  • conducting and publishing high quality research in Traffic Medicine
  • promoting the public’s understanding of safe mobility by increasing their knowledge of how different health conditions can affect their driving
  • working to ensure that drivers who have treatable illnesses or some loss of function due to illness retain their independence and mobility.