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March 4, 1968

Determination of Need for Medical Evaluation in Driver Licensing

JAMA. 1968;203(10):879-880. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140100061014

Drivers of motor vehicles must possess certain physical and mental abilities to operate the vehicles with safety. The goal of licensing authorities should be to license applicants who have these abilities, and to restrict, withdraw, or deny licenses to those who present an unwarranted risk.

There are more than 100 million licensed drivers in the United States. Providing meaningful medical examinations, initially and periodically, to this number would be extremely difficult. In addition, the mere identification of medical conditions in most individuals probably is of little value in preventing accidents, since many impairments are not a limitation to driving. Drivers with impaired hearing, for instance, have fewer moving violations or accidents than comparable groups without that impairment,1 and drivers with chronic diseases and impairments which are well identified and well compensated, particularly those affecting the musculoskeletal systems, can be excellent and accident-free drivers. Furthermore, accident statistics show that young