Health Professionals' Responsibilites
Part A of Assessing Fitness to Drive outlines the responsibilities of drivers, examining health professionals and licensing authorities in relation to licensing (refer Section 3, Roles and responsibilities).
All States and Territories in Australia have laws about reporting health conditions that might affect a person's ability to drive safely. These laws have been created to protect public safety and are summarised in Appendix 3 of Assessing Fitness to Drive.
The laws require drivers to report to the Driver Licensing Authority any permanent or long-term illness that is likely to affect their ability to drive safely.
As the relationship between patient and health professional is a confidential one, the health professional will not normally communicate directly with the Driver Licensing Authority. He or she will provide the patient with advice about their ability to drive safely as well as a letter or report to take to the authority. (Note that in South Australia and the Northern Territory, legislation currently requires the health professional to report directly to the licensing authority if they are concerned about the impact of the patient's health on their ability to drive safely).
Health professionals also have an obligation to public safety, so if a health professional believes that a patient is not following advice to cease driving, he or she may report directly to the Driver Licensing Authority.
If you have questions regarding your legal and ethical responsibilities as a health professional, you may wish to contact your local medical defence organisation or seek legal advice.
The figure below shows the relationships and interactions between patients/drivers, health professionals and the driver licensing authority.