515 North State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
June 6, 2003
We are pleased to present the Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers, the first product of a cooperative agreement between the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This agreement was spurred by our mutual concern for the safety of older driversa public health issue that increasingly affects society as the older population (persons 65 years and older) expands at nearly twice the rate of the total population.
Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 65- to 74-year olds, and are the second leading cause (after falls) in the 75 years and older age group. In the upcoming years, an increasing percentage of older persons will be licensed to drive, and these license-holders will drive an increasingly higher mileage. With the older population’s significant expansion and increase in mileage, its traffic fatalities could potentially triple in the upcoming years.
Efforts in the medical community can help stem this increase. While most older drivers are safe drivers, this population is more prone to motor vehicle crashes due to disease- and medication-related functional deficits. By providing appropriate driver counseling in the course of disease management, physicians can help their patients avoid crashes. Furthermore, physicians can help patients maintain or even improve their driving skills by periodically assessing their patients for functional deficits and tailoring treatment to enhance their level of function.
Beginning with its Medical Guide for Physicians in Determining Fitness to Drive a Motor Vehicle, first published in 1958, the AMA has long been committed to providing physicians with tools for addressing driver safety. This current publication presents recommendations for physicians on assessing and counseling older patients on medical fitness-to-drive. These recommendations are based on the consensus of experts in the field of older driver safety and representatives from medical, health care, and public health societies; national and state government agencies; automobile and driver safety organizations; patient advocacy groups; and other organizations with an interest in older driver safety.
We hope you find this Guide useful, and we look forward to a continued relationship with NHTSA and our other partners in older driver safety.
Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA
Executive Vice President, CEO
American Medical Association