1. What is the change?
The national driver and medical standards called Assessing Fitness to Drive (AFTD) have been revised to reflect current medical knowledge and the current transport environment. A new edition of the AFTD2012 is being distributed. The purpose of these new standards is to improve road safety in Australia by assisting health professionals to assess the fitness to drive of their patients.
2. Who will receive a copy of the AFTD 2012?
The standards will be distributed in hard copy to all Australian general practitioners as well as to medical specialists and to other relevant health professionals (including occupational therapists and optometrists). Health professionals and others who have not received copies of the book will be able to access it from the Austroads website www.austroads.com.au.
Drivers will also be able to view the standards on the Austroads website.
3. How will the new standards affect drivers?
The new standards don’t mean a change in responsibility for drivers in NSW. Drivers must continue to ensure that they do not drive if they have a condition that is likely to affect their ability to drive safely, and they must report such conditions to Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
The standards reflect developments in medical science and improvements in diagnosis and treatment of various health conditions. They therefore provide scope for drivers with well-managed health conditions to continue to drive safely.
There are a small number of significant changes that will affect drivers. More information can be found in the information kit available on the Austroads website www.austroads.com.au.
4. How will the new edition affect health professionals’ practice?
The clarity of the new standards facilitates assessment of fitness to drive by health professionals and ensures greater consistency in such assessments. It is not anticipated that the standards will impact on health professionals’ workload in undertaking assessments.
5. What are the changes in the new edition?
The new edition features a simplified structure which focuses on conditions likely to affect fitness to drive. See also questions 6 to 8 below.
More information can be found in the Information kit available on the Austroads website at www.austroads.com.au.
6. What are the key changes to monocular vision standard for drivers?
For private vehicle drivers with monocular vision a conditional licence may be considered if the standards are met and there will be two-yearly reviews.
Commercial vehicle drivers with monocular vision will no longer be issued an unconditional licence. If a conditional licence is granted the health of the remaining eye must be assessed annually.
7. What are the key changes about epilepsy?
The default position is one-year seizure-free non-driving period for private vehicle drivers and 10 years for commercial vehicle drivers.
Some ’reductions’ in the non-driving period are allowed (eg for first seizure, childhood seizures, sleep-only seizures etc).
There is some allowance for special cases on the advice of a specialist in epilepsy.
8. What are the changes about hearing standards?
There remains a hearing standard for commercial vehicle drivers. Allowance is now made for commercial vehicle drivers with congenital or childhood hearing loss.
9. Is there a change to the RMS medical review process?
No, there will be no change to the RMS medical review process. Customers subject to medical review will still need to have a medical review form completed by their health professional to assess their fitness to drive and what condition if any needs to be placed on their licence.
10. When do the new standards come into effect?
The new standards are effective from 1 March 2012. RMS will introduce a revised medical report form to support the new edition. However, medical reviews completed on old forms will continue to be acceptable up to six months after the new standards begin, to allow for the transition to the new standards.
11. Where can I find more information?
Further information is available from the Austroads website – www.austroads.com.au.
If you still have concerns about the new standards or any medical review requirement for your driver licence, contact the Roads and Maritime Services Contact Centre on 13 22 13.
Roads and Maritime Services, NSW.
Note - Some of the these questions and answers are based on the Information Kit, Assessing Fitness to Drive Revised 2012, available on the Austroads website www.austroads.com.au.