Healthcare professionals should be required to report patients who are unfit to drive: expert panel

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Requiring healthcare professionals to disclose a patient's incapacity to drive to the SAAQ is one of the recommendations released by an expert panel on Wednesday.

The recommendation also states that the measure would ensure drivers notify the SAAQ of a change in their health when renewing their license, as required by Quebec's Highway Safety Code.

The Expert Council was convened to review the SAAQ's priorities, as stated in a three-year plan released last April that spans 2022 to 2024.

Although most of the recommendations endorse the SAAQ's stated priorities, there were some reservations, particularly when it comes to road safety.

The council noted that it had made the recommendation about mandatory reporting in a previous report, issued in 2018, in which it noted a coroner “called to investigate an accident involving a driver who had been the subject of several police requests for his driving skills to be assessed” had made a similar recommendation.

The council argued that, although a more coercive approach can lead to a loss of a license, its main purpose is to adapt the conditions of a driver's license to the driver's state of health and raise awareness among drivers of the risk of accidents linked to their health.

Currently, people over the age of 75 and professional drivers are subject to compulsory checks and the Highway Safety Code obliges all drivers to inform the SAAQ of a change in their health.

Ethical rules oblige healthcare workers to report unfit drivers, but the council noted that “no legal provision obliges them to do so.”

In their report, the council said it fears “that some drivers whose state of health has deteriorated over the years will escape the controls put in place by the SAAQ.”

MANDATORY REQUALIFICATION FOR MOTORCYCLES

In another portion of the report, the council recommended “a program, permanent and compulsory, of re-qualification or reassessment of skills in order to compensate for the driving inexperience of some motorcycle license holders, particularly that of non-owner motorcyclists who benefit from the so-called 'acquired rights' clause.”

There are approximately 300,000 people in Quebec who hold a motorcycle license but do not own a motorcycle. The council said it's “plausible to believe a good number of these people have not ridden a motorcycle for many years or perhaps never rode one.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 7, 2021. 

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