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Open Access Debate

Systematic screening for unsafe driving due to medical conditions: Still debatable

Sandy Leproust123, Emmanuel Lagarde123 and L Rachid Salmi1234*

Author Affiliations

1 INSERM, U593, Équipe Avenir Santé et Insécurité Routière, 146, rue Léo Saignat, Bordeaux, F-33076, France

2 IFR99, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux II, 146, rue Léo Saignat, Bordeaux, F-33076, France

3 ISPED, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux II, 146, rue Léo Saignat Bordeaux, F-33076, France

4 Service d'information médicale, CHU de Bordeaux, Place Amélie Raba Léon, Bordeaux, F-33000, France

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-27

Published: 23 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Assessing people's ability to drive has become a public health concern in most industrialized countries. Although age itself is not a predictive factor of an increased risk for dangerous driving, the prevalence of medical conditions that may impair driving increases with age. Because the implementation of a screening for unsafe driving due to medical conditions is a public health issue, its usefulness should be judged using standardised criteria already proposed for screening for chronic disease. The aim of this paper is to propose standardised criteria suitable to assess the scientific validity of screening for unsafe driving due to medical conditions, and identify potential issues to be clarified before screening can be implemented and effective.

Discussion

Using criteria developed for screening for chronic diseases and published studies on driving with medical conditions, we specify six criteria to judge the opportunity of screening for unsafe driving due to medical conditions. This adaptation was needed because of the complexity of the natural history of medical conditions and their potential consequences on driving and road safety. We then illustrate that published studies pleading for or against screening for unsafe driving due to medical conditions fail to provide the needed documentation. Individual criteria were mentioned in 3 to 72% of 36 papers pleading for or against screening. Quantitative estimates of relevant indicators were provided in at most 42% of papers, and some data, such as the definition of an appropriate unsafe driving period were never provided.

Summary

The standardised framework described in this paper provides a template for assessing the effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) of proposed measures for screening for unsafe driving due to medical conditions. Even if most criteria were mentioned in the published literature pleading for or against such a screening, the failure to find quantitative and evidence-based estimates of relevant indicators provides useful insight for further research.