Determining Fitness to Drive in Older Persons: A Survey of Medical and Surgical Specialists


  • Shawn Marshall University of Ottawa
  • Erin M. Demmings Dalhousie University
  • Andrew Woolnough The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre
  • Danish Salim
  • Malcolm Man-Son-Hing University of Ottawa



older drivers, medical fitness to drive, survey, physician’s role



Many specialists encounter issues related to fitness to drive in their practices. We sought to determine the attitudes and practices of Canadian specialists regarding the assessment of medical fitness to drive in older persons.


We present data from a postal survey of 842 physicians certified in cardiology, endocrinology, geriatric medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or rheumatology regarding their attitudes and practices relating to the assessment of their patients’ fitness to drive.


Overall response rate was 55.1%. Except for rheumatologists (18%), most specialists reported that fitness to drive is an important issue in their practices (68%). Confidence in the ability to assess fitness to drive was low (33%), and the majority (73%) felt they would benefit from further education. There were significant differences (p < .05) in responses between physicians from different provinces, owing to reporting policies. More geriatricians than neurologists report drivers with mild Alzheimer disease to authorities regardless of reporting policy (mandatory 90.7% vs. 56.0%; non-mandatory 84.1% vs. 40.0%) (p < .05).


Canadian specialists accept the responsibility of determining their patients’ fitness to drive but are not fully confident in their ability to do so. However, they are receptive to education to improve their skills in this area.


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How to Cite

Marshall S, Demmings EM, Woolnough A, Salim D, Man-Son-Hing M. Determining Fitness to Drive in Older Persons: A Survey of Medical and Surgical Specialists. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2012 Sep. 20 [cited 2023 Sep. 29];15(4):101-19. Available from:



Original Research